The Willow Emerald Damselfly was first discovered in the UK in 2007 in East Anglia and has since spread to a number of sites in southern England, including some sites in North and East Kent. On 29th August I found an individual perched on a willow bush opposite my allotment and have since seen several others, including one female egg laying. As far as I am aware, this is the first occurrence on the allotments and possibly the first record for Faversham town.
The distinctive features are the metallic green body with wings raised at an angle when perched, the brown eyes, the pale wing spots with a dark border and the spur shaped mark on the side of the thorax. The Willow Emerald Damselfly is normally found near ponds, canals and slow flowing waters with overhanging trees. It is unique in the UK owing to its behaviour and spends a lot of the time basking in the sun, perched on trees over water.
Willow Emerald Damselfly females lay eggs into the bark of willow and alder trees. The egg laying leaves distinctive scars on the bark of the twigs.The eggs overwinter and then in the spring the nymphs hatch and fall into the water below. This behaviour is quite different to our other UK damselflies that lay their eggs into submerged aquatic or emergent plants within the water.
It is a late emerging species, with most records between July and October, so keep an eye out for it in the coming months. All photos by Bob Gomes