The Southern Damselfly (Coenagrion mercuriale) is a medium-sized insect in the Coenagrionidae family of damselflies which are similar to dragonflies. It is also known as the Mercury Bluet.
The Southern Damselfly has a long, cylindrical, slender abdomen with ten segments. The male is bright blue with black markings. The female is less colourful. It has a mark on the second segment of its abdomen that resembles the symbol for the planet Mercury. It has forewings and hindwings which are similar in appearance and are membranous. It has compound eyes (like the eyes of house flies) and three simple eyes (ocelli) on its forehead. It has small antennae.
The joint between its head and prothorax is flexible, which enables the damselfly to swivel its head.
It is found in northern Africa, Europe, and the Caucasus. It prefers slow-moving rivers and freshwater springs.
The Southern Damselfly eats flies, mosquitoes, and other small insects. It uses vision and smell to catch its prey. Birds, fish, frogs, spiders, beetles and other animals eat damselfies.
The life cycle is: egg, larva (nymph), and adult damselfly. It is an hemimetabolous insect, which means that it has no pupal stage in its life cycle.
Like dragonflies, the mating pair of damselflies form a shape known as a “heart” or “wheel.” The female lays eggs on plants.
The young damselflies (nymphs) are aquatic, living near ponds, lakes and rivers. They spend 2 years underwater in the larval stage. The nymphs moult repeatedly to undergo metamorphosis. The skin splits down the back, and they emerge and inflate their wings and abdomen to gain their adult form.
Location of photographs: Tbilisi, Georgia
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM