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Calopteryx virgo (Beautiful Damselfly / Güzel Kızböceği)

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Calopteryx virgo (Beautiful Damselfly / Güzel Kızböceği)

Calopteryx virgo ssp. festiva (Beautiful Damselfly / Güzel Kızböceği) [Male/Erkek] from Köşk, Aydın - 28.06.2009.

The largest and darkest Calopteryx, with (almost) entirely metallic cobalt wings in males and transparently greenish to deep ebony wings in females. The flight is butterfly-like, but heavier than in C. splendens (Banded Demoiselle) , and the species is more often seen in deep forest shade.

Beautiful Demoiselle is a relatively large and robust (total length: 45-49mm, Abdomen length: 31-42mm, Hindwing span: 24-36mm). Wings, especially the male hindwing, are broader than in other Calopteryx, and almost paddle-shaped. Male wings appear completely purplish blue (but it shows variation, see Variation). Male 'tail-light' is brown to reddish, extensively marked with black (paler or unmarked in other species). Only large, dark male forms of C. splendens (e.g. Turkish ssp. intermedia) could be mistaken for C. virgo (especially the paler ssp. meridionalis of south-west Europe), but potentially confusing forms are widely separated geographically. Moreover, the C. splendens 'taillight' is yellowish. Females are metallic (brownish) green and are hard to separate from C. splendens, but the wings tend to be broader and browner (sometimes very darkly so).

Variation:Three main forms can be distinguished by wing colour, and are normally treated as subspecies. In most areas (roughly north of the Loire, Alps and Danube) virgo is found, characterised by males with only the extreme tips (especially forewing) and base paler (looking 'washed out') than the rest of the wing. Roughly from Normandy and Geneva southwards, the rather distinctive meridionalis occurs. It has distinctly clear wing bases but entirely dark tips; the delimitation of the clear area is rather sharp (not 'washed out'). In Turkey and the southern Balkans (along the coast at least as far as Montenegro and south-east Romania) festiva is found. This is the largest European Calopteryx, with entirely purple-blue wings in males. Females with dark brown wings may emulate the male's subspecific wing pattern. The extent and distribution of intergrades between the three forms are poorly known. For instance, in Italy, meridionalis, festiva and intermediates (e.g. padana) occur.

Beautiful Demoiselle is mainly a European damselfly including Anatolia (Turkey), locally common, east to the Urals. Absent from large areas in the south, e.g. many major islands, and in Anatolia mainly limited to coastal areas; rare on the plateau. It prefers cooler running waters than other Calopteryx, typically smaller, more shaded or at higher latitudes: small forest streams are the classic habitat. Where streams broaden or open up, C. virgo gives way to C. splendens. There may be broad overlap and occasional hybridisation. It flights between May to late September.

Females lay up to 300 eggs at a time on emergent or floating plants, often on water-crowfoot. Like the Banded Demoiselle, they often submerge to do so. The eggs hatch after around 14 days. Again, like the Banded Demoiselle, the larva is stick-like with long legs and develops over a period of two years in submerged vegetation, plant debris or roots. They usually overwinter in mud or slime. Males are territorial, perching in bankside plants and trees. They chase passing insects, often returning to the same perch. Males can stray well away from water, females live away from water unless egg-laying or seeking a mate.

Reference: 1. Chinery, M. (1986). Collins Guide to the Insects of Britain and Western Europe, Collins, Glasgow, 320 pp. 2. Dijkstra K.-D. (2006). Field Guide to the Dragonflies of Britain and Europe including Western Turkey and noth-Western Africa. British Wildlife Publishing, Dorset, UK. 320 pp. 3. Wikipedia.

Author Bayram GÖÇMEN
Created on Sunday 28 June 2009
Posted on Tuesday 12 July 2011
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