The genus Calopteryx is part of the subfamily Calopteryginae which is distinguished by individuals having broad wings and the wings being coloured in males (1). C. splendens is very similar to C. virgo (2), C. hyaline and C. syriaca.
C. splendens is a large damselfly with a total length between 45 and 48 mm. The males are a metallic blue with a dark blue band across each wing. The underside of the end of the tail is bright to grayish white with a black stripe. The wing color varies greatly depending on individuals and geographic region (3). The females are less striking. They have a metallic green body and veins and clear greenish wings. Some females may have male wing colors (3).
The females lay eggs in emergent or floating plants. The eggs hatch into nymphs after 14 days. The nymphs are stick-like with very long legs. Full development takes two years. The nymphs overwinter buried in mud (4).
Males can wander far from suitable living areas and be very territorial. They have a ‘fluttering’ display flight when courting females (4). The flight season is from April to October in the south and May to August in the north (3).
They require open running waters yet avoid cold torrents. Often found in high mountains and deep shade, it is scarce on large rivers (3).
Species is spread across Europe from the north to the south and around parts of the Mediterranean (3).
Although Calopteryx splendens is not currently threatened, both C. hyalina and C. syriaca are listed as ‘Endangered’ on the IUCN Red List (5).
Description written by Aino Helakallio (2009)
(1) Steinmann. H. (1997) World Catalogue of Odonata, Walter de Gruyter, USA
(2) Centre of Environmental Data and Recording (2009) Calopteryx splendens [online] Available:
http://www.habitas.org.uk/dragonflyireland/5617.htm [date accessed: 22/05/2009]
(3) Dijkstra. K. (2006) Field guide to Dragonflies of Britain and Europe, British Wildlife Publishing, Gillingham
(4) Brooks. S. (1997) Field guide to the dragonflies and damselflies of Great Britain and Ireland, British Wildlife Publishing, Hampshire
(5) IUCN 2008 (2008) IUCN Red List of Threatened Species [online] Available:
http://www.iucnredlist.org [date accessed:13/05/2009]