A Willow Emerald Damselfly has been recorded for the first time in Leicestershire and Rutland (VC55), an adult was discovered in willows beside the Eye Brook inlet to Eyebrook Resevoir on the 8th September. Up to five have now been seen at the same site and it is hoped that more inhabited localities will materialise in the coming weeks.
Ten years ago, the Willow Emerald Damselfly had only been reliably recorded in the UK on 2 occasions, in 1979 and 1992. In 2007, one was recorded near Felixstowe and since then it has spread rapidly westwards. It had reached Northamptonshire by 2016 and Lincolnshire by 2017, so it was only a matter of time before it would reach Leicestershire and Rutland. Read more here about the spread of this species.
The Willow Emerald flies through August to October, so there is still the opportunity to look out for more before the end of the season. Their favoured habitat is shrub or tree-lined waterbodies including ponds, lakes, canals and slow-flowing sections of rivers.
The adults often perch on branches with wings held at a 45 degree angle. It looks similar to the Emerald Damselfly but is thinner and longer, and lacks the blue pruinescense. It can be distingusished by the pale brown pterostigma, which is dark pigmented spots on the outer edges of the wings.
They also leave characteristic scars on bark after egg laying, which can be seen in the image below.
Photo of Willow Emerald (top right): Tony Clarke