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Banded Demoiselles take to the air in June. With a wingspan of around 70mm they're one of the largest damselflies in the UK. The beautiful blue-green coloured male has distinctive dark blue coloured bands on each wing (hence the name). In bright sunlight these insects glisten like precious jewels.
During the mating season the male performs a graceful, almost balletic, fluttering dance in front of the female, occasionally dipping to gently touch the surface of the water at an egg laying site. He does this to impress the female with his physical fitness as well as displaying his aerobatic mastery. The dark patches on his wings help to draw attention to his wing movements.
If a female is impressed she will allow him to mate with her. The male uses a pair of claspers at the end of his abdomen to grasp the female around her neck. The female will curve her abdomen forwards to collect sperm from the male, and straight after, will fly to the water to lay her eggs.
The male remains at the egg-laying site to defend it from other males. Sometimes fights break out between males as one moves in on another ones territory. The males spiral around each other in the air until one finally gives in and moves away. Contests can last for hours.
If you want to take photos of Banded Demoiselles the best time is early in the morning before they've had a chance to warm up and get active. If you want to catch them in action then the best time is between 10am and 2pm.