Portugal Wildlife

Guide to the Damselflies and Dragonflies of a Wildlife Reserve in Baixo Alentejo

All Photographs were taken by the website author on the reserve unless otherwise stated.

Species Notes Photographs Photographs Photographs

 

 

 

Damselflies / Libelhinas

 

 

 

Emerald Spreadwing

Lestes dryas

Lestes robusto
 

 

Migrant Spreadwing

Lestes barbarus

Lestes mourisco
 

Female. This species also has bicoloured pterostigmae (see subspecies below).

Female. This individual was seen in a dry woodland copse some distance from a water source.

 

 

Small Spreadwing

Lestes virens virens

Lestes menor
 

 

 

Mating pair of Small Spreadwings. Male at top of picture. Note that this sub-species has bicoloured pterostigmae. A pterostigma is a cell in the outer wing of an insect that is thickened or coloured and so stands out from other cells - particularly notable in many dragonfly species. They assist in gliding flight by controlling wing vibrations that would slow the speed of the insect.

 

Western Willow Spreadwing

Chalcolestes viridis

Lestes dos salgueiros
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Winter Damsel

Sympecma fusca

Libelinha hirbernante
 

 

Active throughout the year.

 

 

Mating Common Winter Damsels.

Hibernating adults of this species characteristically have blue eyes, as here.

Dainty Bluet

Coenagrion scitulum

Libelinha da cabeça do gato
 

 

Male.

Mating Pair.

Mating pair.

Common Blue Damselfly or Common Bluet

Enallagma cyathigerum

Libelinha do cogumelo
 

Male Common Blue Damselfy on Windmill Pond.

Male. This species is found throughout Portugal and is one of the most widespread Damselflies found across Europe to Eastern Asia.

Male.

Goblet-marked Damselfly

Erythromma lindenii

Libelinha do vaso grego
 

Male.

 

 

Mating Pair.

Male.

Mating.

 

 

Mating pair.

 

 

Small Redeye

Erythromma viridulum

Libelinha de olhos vermelhos
 

Three tandem pairs egg-laying in floating vegetation.

 

 

Iberian Bluetail

Ischnura graellsii

Iscnura ibero magrebina
 

Male.

Male.

 

 

Iberian Bluetails mating. The upper damselfy is the male (blue) and the female is below.

Mating pair.

Female.

 

 

Male. Note: Blue 'tail-light' is restricted to S9.

Mating pair.

 

 

Male.

Male. This species is quite small - only 26-31mm in length.

 

 

Female.

Mating pair.

Male.

 

 

Female.

Male Iberian bluetail. This species is found throughout Portugal.

Mating.

 

 

Female egg-laying (ovipositing). She will lay her eggs in the aquatic plant's stem and the resultant larvae will live in the pond until ready to hatch into an adult damselfy.

Egg-laying while clinging to Stream Water-Crowfoot plant.

Ovipositing.

 

 

Females can be various colours.

 

Female.

 

 

 

Dragonflies / Libélulas

 

 

 

Migrant Hawker

Aeshna mixta

Tira olhos outonal
 

Male Migrant Hawker.

 

 

 

Blue Emperor

Anax imperator

Imperador azul
 

Male. The Blue Emperor is Europe's largest Dragonfly.

Male.

 

 

 

Female ovipositing.

Female ovipositing.

 

 

 

Female egg-laying.

Male Blue Emperor patrolling its territory.

 

Female Blue Emperor caught in web of Banded Garden Spider.

 

 

Female Blue Emperor caught in web of Banded Garden Spider.

Female ovipositing.

 

 

 

Male.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lesser Emperor

Anax parthenope

Tira-olhos menor
 

Male.

Mating pair of Lesser Emperors.

 

 

 

Male.

 

 

 

Vagrant Emperor

Anax ephippiger

Tira olhos migrador
 

Male.

 

 

 

 

Western Clubtail

Gomphus pulchellus

Gonfos comum
 

Newly emerged Female.

Newly emerged Female Western Clubtail - A very early emergence date of 12th March.

 

 

 

Female.

Female.

 

Broad Scarlet or Scarlet Dragonfly

Crocothemis erythraea

Libélula escarlate

 

Male.

Female. This species is found throughout Portugal.

Male Broad Scarlet.

 

 

Newly hatched teneral Broad Scarlet at Bulrush Pond- possibly a female.

Female.

Note red legs which distinguish this male Broad Scarlet from a Redveined Darter.

 

 

Female. Note white dorsal stripe on thorax.

Male.

 

 

The Broad Scarlet (36-45mm long) is a little larger than a Redveined Darter (33-40mm long).

Male. The bright green foliage behind the dragonfly is grass growing at the spring which helps fill Windmill Pond. So even in late August this area is wet and alive with dragonflies

 

 

Note the marked red basal suffusion to the wings of this male Broad Scarlet.

Female. This species has expanded its range Northwards from Africa into Southern Europe.They also occur in West Asia.

 

 

Female.

Male Broad Scarlet flying. Photographed in South Africa.

Female Broad Scarlet egg-laying. Photographed in South Africa.

 

 

Male.

Female Broad Scarlet.

Male.

 

 

Male Broad Scarlet. Note the breadth of the abdomen which gives this dragonfly its name.

 

 

Black Percher

Diplacodes lefebvrii

Libélula preta pequena
 

Male.

Male.

Male.

 

 

Male.

 

 

Male.

 

Broadbodied Chaser

Libellula depressa

Libélula achatada
 

 

 

Fourspotted Chaser

Libellula quadrimaculata

Libélula de quatro pintas
 

Blacktailed Skimmer

Orthetrum cancellatum

Ortétrum de cauda negra
 

Female.

Female or Teneral male. A Teneral is a newly emerged adult dragonfly that is soft and shiny and lacks the full colouration of a mature adult.

 

 

Male

Male.

 

 

Female hovering above Windmill Pond.

Female egg-laying (ovipositing) in Windmill Pond.

 

 

Male.

Female or Teneral male. Most likely a Female.

Epaulet Skimmer

Orthetrum chrysostigma

Ortétrum de faixa branca
 

The white diagonal stripe on the thorax is the 'epaulet'.

Teneral male.

 

 

Tandem mating pair of Epaulet Skimmers.

Male. Note the small yellowish patch at base of hindwing which distinguishes this dragonfly from similar species.

 

 

Male.

Note the characteristic slender and waisted abdomen near its base.

 

 

This species is widespread in Northwest Africa and across the Mediterranean basin from Portugal to Turkey.

Teneral Male. Abdomen not yet fully blue.

Male.

 

 

Teneral Male. Abdomen not yet fully blue.

Male.

Long Skimmer

Orthetrum trinacria

Ortétrum comprido
 

Male at Bulrush Pond.

Male. This species is classed as "Potentially Threatened" by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) in its Red Data List.

Male. The Long Skimmer is a mainly African species, that also occurs in Iberia, especially in the South, and parts of Italy. It is quite large: 51-67mm in length.

 

 

Female.

This species was first discovered in Iberia in 1980. It is not common here and mostly confined to Southern Portugal.

Female.

Redveined Darter

Sympetrum fonscolombii

Libélula de nervuras vermelhas
 

Mating pair of Redveined Darters.

Female. Note the blue underside to the eye.

 

 

Newly emerged Female fell onto pond surface and could not fly free as its wings had not finished drying. But it managed to climb onto a pond plant so that it could dry off and let its wings harden.

Mating pair of Redveined Darters.

 

 

Female. Note black legs with yellow stripes.

Mating pair of Redveined Darters.

Female.

 

 

Female.

Male.

Male.

 

 

Male hovering over Windmill Pond.

Mating while in flight over Windmill Pond.

Male. Showing red wing veins.

 

 

Ovipositing (egg-laying) while flying over Windmill Pond.

Male. Note the black legs

 

 

This species is found throughout Portugal. Female.

 

 

Female.

Mating Pair in tandem.

Male. Showing orange basal suffusion and red veins.

 

 

This species ranges as far as Africa and South-West Asia. Female.

Male.

Southern Darter

Sympetrum meridionale

Libélula meridional
 

Note very little black on abdomen. Male.

 

 

Ruddy Darter

Sympetrum sanguineum

Libélula cor de sangue
 

Female perched on Iberian Holm Oak branch - well away from any standing water.

Common Darter

Sympetrum striolatum

Libélula comum
 

Male. Note Red Pterostigmas and lack of basal suffusion on wings.

Male. Note black on sides of abdomen.

Newly emerged female.

 

 

Common Darters Egg-laying in Bulrush Pond (October).

 

 

 

Violet Dropwing

Trithemis annulata

Libélula púrpura
 

Adult Male.

Adult Male being chased off by Solitary Bee.

Adult Male.

 

 

Newly emerged Teneral drying out while sitting on larval case.

Teneral - still drying.

Newly emerged Violet Dropwing - probably a male.

 

 

Newly emerged Teneral drying out while sitting on larval case.

Adult Male.

Newly emerged Violet Dropwing sitting on its larval case. Probably a female.

 

 

Newly emerged Violet Dropwing sitting on its larval case. Probably a female.

Orangewinged Dropwing

Trithemis kirbyi

Tritémis âmbar
 

Immature Male. (Photo by Simon). This is an African species that has only been recorded in Portugal since 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The chart below shows the IUCN Red list categories. The further towards the right hand side, the more serious are the threats to a particular species.

Dragonfly Species List :

  Damselflies      
1 Emerald Spreadwing Lestes dryas Lestes robusto Least Concern
2 Migrant Spreadwing Lestes barbarus Lestes mourisco Least Concern
3 Small Spreadwing Lestes virens virens Lestes menor Least Concern
4 Western Willow Spreadwing Chalcolestes viridis Lestes dos salgueiros Least Concern
5 Common Winter Damsel Sympecma fusca Libelinha hirbernante Least Concern
6 Dainty Bluet Coenagrion scitulum Libelinha da cabeça do gato Least Concern
7 Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum Libelinha do cogumelo Least Concern
8 Goblet-marked Damselfly Erythromma lindenii Libelinha do vaso grego Least Concern
9 Small Redeye Erythromma viridulum Libelinha de olhos vermelhos Least Concern
10 Iberian Bluetail or Bluetailed Damselfly Ischnura graellsii Iscnura ibero magrebina Least Concern
         
  Dragonflies      
11 Migrant Hawker Aeshna mixta Tira olhos outonal Least Concern
12 Blue Emperor Anax imperator Imperador azul Least Concern
13 Lesser Emperor Anax parthenope Tira olhos menor Least Concern
14 Vagrant Emperor Anax ephippiger Tira olhos migrador Least Concern
15 Western Clubtail Gomphus pulchellus Gonfos comum Least Concern
16 Broad Scarlet Crocothemis erythraea Libélula escarlate Least Concern
17 Black Percher Diplacodes lefebvrii Libélula preta pequena Least Concern
18 Broadbodied Chaser Libellula depressa Libélula achatada Least Concern
19 Fourspotted Chaser Libellula quadrimaculata Libélula de quatro pintas Least Concern
20 Blacktailed Skimmer Orthetrum cancellatum Ortétrum de cauda negra Least Concern
21 Epaulet Skimmer Orthetrum chrysostigma Ortétrum de faixa branca Least Concern
22 Long Skimmer Orthetrum trinacria Ortétrum comprido Potentially Threatened
23 Redveined Darter Sympetrum fonscolombii Libélula de nervuras vermelhas Least Concern
24 Southern Darter Sympetrum meridionale Libélula meridional Least Concern
25 Ruddy Darter Sympetrum sanguineum Libélula cor de sangue Least Concern
26 Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum Libélula comum Least Concern
27 Violet Dropwing Trithemis annulata Libélula púrpura Least Concern
28 Orangewinged Dropwing Trithemis kirbyi Tritémis âmbar Least Concern

 

European Distribution Maps for the above species of Dragonflies can be found here: Dragonfly Maps

Links to Portugal Nature Reserve webpages:

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