The new five-year atlas survey of dragonflies and damselflies in Hertfordshire is only in its first season, but is already producing exciting records. These include the first verified sightings of Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura pumilio) in the county for 74 years (photo © Barry Reed)

The discovery by Barry Reed of a male on 24 August in a boggy, rush-filed part of Park Mead, Kingsmead was quickly followed by records at the same site of an egg-laying female, a mating pair and another, atypically marked male.

Herts. dragonfly recorder, Roy Woodward, writes: "Although this species, which predominately has a localised, south-westerly distribution in the UK, has been found just across the border with Bedfordshire in recent decades, this represented only the second ever record for Hertfordshire with the previous record being from the River Beane at Waterford Heath as long ago as 4th August 1948.

Female Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly – Kingsmead, 26 August 2022 (© Roy Woodward)

"On 26th August I visited the site and, although I was unable to relocate the male, I found a single ovipositing female, indicating that the species was attempting to breed in Hertfordshire. The following day, Simon West found four individuals, including a mating pair and an atypically marked male with more extensive blue markings on the abdomen than normal.

Atypically marked male Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly – Kingsmead, 27 August 2022 (© Simon West)

"Migrants of this species have established breeding colonies elsewhere in the past, including a colony in a chalk quarry in Bedfordshire. The Bedfordshire colony died out nearly twenty years ago, but the species was again recorded there this year - possibly having arrived as part of a wider dispersal that also brought them to Hertfordshire. Hopefully this budding colony, which is a great discover for the first year of the new Dragonfly and Damselfly Atlas Survey will persist, and the species will become another permanent part of the counties fauna."


Roy adds this further request for any records for the dragonfly and damselfly atlas survey to be submitted via this website or using iRecord: "Although records of unusual species, like these Scarce Blue-tailed Damselflies, can sometimes seem more exciting records of all species will be useful for the Atlas, with records of the more common species in the county just as valuable." Contact Roy for further information about the survey.