With a day of sunshine and light winds and the family going to the cinema with friends early afternoon, I thought I would have a few hours out and about and so visited Westbere Lakes for my first dipping session. I arrived at 11am and spent 3 hours wandering along the various dykes, stopping every now and then to dip the net to see what I could find. My ideal targets today were to see if I could find any Scarce Chaser and Variable Damselfly nymphs. Despite a search for the Chaser nymphs, I drew a blank on this one but I will try again soon as there is much water to cover and they do like to get down and hide in the mud. I did however, quite probably strike lucky with the Variable Damselfly nymphs as I found quite a few likely individuals where I saw a good number of adults last year. I never found this species before as a nymph and as the name suggests, it is highly variable. I returned home with a few to look at more closely through the 10X field lens and photograph in the tank. Having read quite a bit of literature on this species, it is very hard to separate from the Azure Damselfly nymph. They both have spotting behind the eyes unlike the Common Blue and Blue tailed Damselfly, both have two dark bands on the femur and both have seven segments on the antennae. The only slight difference that I can find really is that the Variable Damselfly nymph has slightly broader and a more rounded tip to the caudal lamellae unlike the more pointed tip of the Azure Damselfly nymph. You can see now that catching these two species does present its problems. Having looked at a few I collected today, they do indeed seem to show more rounded tips to the caudal lamellae but no doubt there is an overlap in this feature. I would like to think that the photos taken today are that of the Variable Damselfly nymph, if so, they are a first for me and the fact that I found them in areas where the Variable Damselfly occurs in good numbers does add a bit of weight to the theory. There is still much to be learnt and my knowledge continues to grow and grow with these fascinating insects. I also manged to find 2 Hairy Dragonfly nymphs and two small Emperor Dragonfly nymphs on my travels as well today. I still have unfinished business with the Scarce Chaser nymphs but as the name suggests, they may indeed be scarce to hunt down but I will return for another session soon.
Variable / Azure Damselfly Nymph Caudal Lamellae
Variable / Azure Damselfly Nymph