Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Dainty Detective

I spent a few hours at Sandwich Bay this morning where after meeting Steffan (the warden) at 9am, we made our way to the Dainty pool where I spent about 15 minutes collecting a few larvae which we hoped would be Dainty Damselfly nymphs. I had brought my tank set up with me and after sitting down and going through the nymphs looking for the key features of Dainty, I spent some time setting up. Having never seen Dainty Damselfly nymphs before and hardly any literature out there about identifying them, (what there is in often in a foreign language), I spent some more time with Steffan going through the various species that they could be confused with. I still have much to learn myself about identifying some of the species at this stage but a few nymphs were found with spotting behind the eyes. This ruled out Dainty straight away as these were likely Azure or Variable Damselfly nymphs which have spotting. A careful count of the antennae on some of them revealed 7 segments which through elimination, ruled out Common Blue which generally have 6 segments. This left us with Blue tailed Damselfly nymph which also has 7 segments. It was then left to look at the caudal lamellae which in Blue tailed Damselfly nymphs, are long, thin and tapered towards the tip. The setae on one side reach the mid point and the other side, about a third. A few nymphs I think were of this species but a couple had very broad caudal lamellae which in Dainty are more broad in the distal half and ending in a point. The setae on one side reaches the mid point and the other side, over a third in length. With all these factors in mind, I photographed one of the likely candidates which showed the 7 antennae, lack of spotting on the head and broad rounded caudal lamellae. The only slight nagging point is are the setae slightly wrong? Looking at other photos on the internet vary in size and these fit within the range I have seen. There is still much to be written and learnt  about these nymphs and hopefully these photos might help out at some point with a discussion on the id features. Whether it or isn't a Dainty Damselfly nymph, it was an educational few hours where hopefully I can return soon to maybe look for some more nymphs before the real fun begins when the adults emerge in a month or so. 













'Hopeful' Dainty Damselfly Nymph

7 comments:

  1. Hello Marc,
    Blimey what a subject. For a start when I first read your blog I thought thats an interesting subject I'll follow him. I never relized there were so many varieties. I've followed you for many years and you always amaze me on how much there is to learn. Take care.
    Mike.

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    1. Good to hear from you Mike and hope you are well. There's plenty to learn out there about them and with this species being so little written about them in the UK, there's not much to go on. That's part of the attraction I think, learning all the time. Take care.

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  2. Absolutely superb images, Marc. It seems that you are not alone in your belief that you've found the Dainty Damselfly nymph! I guess that you're planning a major focus on this species this season?

    Take great care - - - Richard

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    1. Many thanks Richard. It would seem that this is indeed a Dainty Damselfly nymph. It was most helpful having Dave Smallshire agree that it was likely this species. I bet there are not many people in the UK that have photographed a nymph of this species. Hoping to return again soon to see if I can maybe photograph some more. Take care.

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  3. Those are breath takingly beautiful images Marc and fascinating to be able to see through the translucency of its skin. I feel really lucky to be able to see them, thank you. Take care and I hope that you have a great Dragonfly and Damselfly season, Chris

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    1. Good to hear from you Chris and I hope you are well. I'm sure we will bump into each other during the season. Take care.

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  4. Stunning images Marc. Let's hope you have hit the jackpot with these!!

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