Dragonflies & damselflies

Dainty White-faced Darter (Leucorrhinia caudalis) M
Male Dainty White-faced Darter (Leucorrhinia caudalis), Brenne; a rare species with an affinity to lilypads, hence the 'alternative' name Lilypad Whiteface
Of the 100 or so odonata species that occur in France, 60 species have been recorded in the Vienne, and 64 in the departement Indre, covering the Brenne. Most of these species can be seen easily at etangs and rivers with free public access, although some have more specific habitat requirements. It is not unusual to find over 20 species around a single, well-established etang. Again, use of IGN large-scale 1:25 000 mapping usually pays dividends. The best months for watching are June and July.


All the species listed below, photographed locally. Observational notes added to each to aid identification; these come from the reference sources, plus any notes of my own. Normally they're a summary of diagnostic points that can be seen in the photograph.

Occasionally we net odonata using a large butterfly net. With Dave Smallshire's expert guidance, we have both learnt to confidently handle individuals by the wings for examination, and sometimes record shots. We never catch or handle tenerals; their wings are too soft. This definitely adds another dimension to odonata watching, and does them no harm at all - see Dijkstra page 6. Otherwise, all individuals photographed in the wild using a variety of compact-zoom and DSLR cameras

Main sources of reference;

Field Guide to the Dragonflies of Britain and Europe, Klaas-Douwe B Dijkstra/R Lewington, British Wildlife Publishing, 2006. The Bible
The order of odonata species follows this guide

Britain's Dragonflies, Dave Smallshire/Andy Swash, Wildguides, 2nd Edition fully revised 2010 and highly recommended, even for France Princeton University Press website. NB... now in revised 3rd edition, 2014

Les Libellules de France, Belgique et Luxembourg. Collection Parthénope (publishers). Available from www.insectes.org and www.biotope-editions.com

Libellules du Poitou-Charentes. Poitou-charentes Nature (publishers). Available from Poitou-charentes Nature

DragonflyPix www.dragonflypix.com Good identification reference

Société française d’Odonatologie www.libellules.org

Libellules http://photosinsectes.free.fr

Odonata list Vienne Vienne Nature

Odonata list Indre (inc. the Brenne) Indre Nature

Big thanks to Dave and Sue Smallshire, Devon, UK, for help, advice and encouragement

Thanks also to Eric Male-Malherbe, formerly at Cherine reserve, who gave initial help with a couple of sites in the Brenne; Eric has written several useful papers on the status of odonata species in the Brenne

List of odonata species observed in the southern Vienne/Brenne since our arrival in January 2006.. The abundance guide may help if you live or are staying in the general area. It is based only on my observations since January 2006, and may or may not reflect the true status within the area. English BDS names are used, 'alternative' names (where they exist) as proposed by K-D B Dijkstra are in yellow.

1 = Very common
2 = Fairly common
3 = Scarce
4 = Rare or localised

Small Emerald (Lestes virens) F
Goblet-marked Damselfly (Erythromma lindenii) M
Dusk Hawker (Boyeria irene) M, Aeschne paisible
Large White-faced Darter (Leucorrhinia pectoralis) M

Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens) - Caloptéryx éclatant ------1

Beautiful Demoiselle (Calopteryx virgo ssp. meridionalis) - Caloptéryx vierge ------2

Common Emerald Damselfly (Lestes sponsa) - Leste fiancé ------2
- Common Spreadwing

Scarce Emerald Damselfly (Lestes dryas) - Leste dryade ------4
- Robust Spreadwing

Southern Emerald Damselfly (Lestes barbarus) - Leste sauvage ------2
- Migrant Spreadwing

Small Emerald Damselfly (Lestes virens ssp. vestalis) - Leste verdoyant ----2
- Small Spreadwing

Willow Emerald Damselfly (Lestes viridis) - Leste vert ------2
- Western Willow Spreadwing

Winter Damselfly (Sympecma fusca) - Leste brun ------2
- Common Winter Damsel

Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans) - Agrion élégant ------1
- Common Bluetail

Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly (Ischnura pumilio) - Agrion nain ------4
- Small Bluetail

Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum) - Agrion porte-coupe ------2
- Common Bluet

Variable Damselfly (Coenagrion pulchellum) - Agrion gracieux ------4
- Variable Bluet

Azure Damselfly (Coenagrion puella) - Agrion jouvencelle ------1
- Azure Bluet

Southern Damselfly (Coenagrion mercuriale) - Agrion de Mercure ------4
- Mercury Bluet

Dainty Damselfly (Coenagrion scitulum) - Agrion mignon ------2
- Dainty Bluet

Red-eyed Damselfly (Erythromma najas) - Naïade aux yeux rouges ------2
- Large Redeye

Small Red-eyed Damselfly (Erythromma viridulum) - Naïade aux corps vert ------2
- Small Redeye

Goblet-marked Damselfly (Erythromma lindenii) - Agrion à long cercoïdes ------1
- Blue-eye

Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) - Petit nymphe au corps de feu ------2
- Large Red Damsel

Small Red Damselfly (Ceriagrion tenellum) - Agrion delicat ------1
- Small Red Damsel

White-legged Damselfly (Platycnemis pennipes) - Agrion à larges pattes ------1
- Blue Featherleg

Orange White-legged Damselfly (Platycnemis acutipennis) - Agrion orangé ------3
- Orange Featherleg

Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta) - Aeschne mixte ------1

Southern Migrant Hawker (Aeshna affinis) - Aeschne affine ------2
- Blue-eyed Hawker

Norfolk Hawker (Anaciaeshna isosceles) - Aeschne isocèle ------3
- Green-eyed Hawker

Southern Hawker (Aeshna cyanea) - Aeschne bleue ------1
- Blue Hawker

Emperor Dragonfly (Anax imperator) - Anax empereur ------1
- Blue Emperor

Lesser Emperor (Anax parthenope) - Anax napolitain ------4

Vagrant Emperor (Hemianax ephippiger) - Anax porte-selle ------4

Hairy Dragonfly (Brachytron pratense) - Aeschne printanière ------3
- Hairy Hawker

Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum) M
Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii) M
Scarlet Darters (Crocothemis erythraea)

Dusk Hawker (Boyeria irene) - Aeschne paisible ------3
- Western Spectre

Club-tailed Dragonfly (Gomphus vulgatissimus) - Gomphus très commun ------2
- Common Clubtail

Yellow Clubtail (Gomphus simillimus) - Gomphus similaire ------4

Western Clubtail (Gomphus pulchellus) - Gomphus gentil ------2

Blue-eyed Hooktail (Onychogomphus uncatus) - Gomphus à crochets ------3
- Large Pincertail

Green-eyed Hooktail (Onychogomphus forcipatus) - Gomphus à pinces ------1
- Small Pincertail

Golden-ringed Dragonfly (Cordulegaster boltonii) - Cordulégastre annelé ------3
- Common Goldenring

Downy Emerald (Cordulia aenea) - Cordulie bronzée ------2

Brilliant Emerald (Somatochlora metallica) - Cordulie métallique ------3

Yellow-spotted Emerald (Somatochlora flavomaculata) - Cordulie à corps jaune ---3

Two-spotted Dragonfly (Epitheca bimaculata) - Cordulie à deux taches ------4
- Eurasian Baskettail

Orange-spotted Emerald (Oxygastra curtisii) - Cordulie à corps fin ------2

Four-spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata) - Libellule à quatre taches ------1

Broad-bodied Chaser (Libellula depressa) - Libellule déprimée ------1

Scarce Chaser (Libellula fulva) - Libellule fauve ------3
- Blue Chaser

Black-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum) - Orthétrum réticulé -----1

White-tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum albistylum) - Orthétrum à stylets blancs ------1

Keeled Skimmer (Orthetrum coerulescens) - Orthétrum bleuissant ------3

Southern Skimmer (Orthetrum brunneum) - Orthétrum brun ------4

Large White-faced Darter (Leucorrhinia pectoralis) - Leucorrhine à gros thorax ---4
- Yellow-spotted Whiteface

Dainty White-faced Darter (Leucorrhinia caudalis) - Leucorrhine à large queue ----4
- Lilypad Whiteface

Ruddy Darter (Sympetrum sanguineum) - Sympétrum rouge sang ------1

Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii) - Sympétrum à nervure rouges ------4

Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) - Sympétrum à côtés striés ------1

Vagrant Darter (Sympetrum vulgatum) - Sympétrum vulgaire ------4
- Moustached Darter

Southern Darter (Sympetrum meridionale) - Sympétrum méridional ------1

Scarlet Darter (Crocothemis erythraea) - Libellule écarlate ------1
- Broad Scarlet

(57 species)