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Small red-eyed damselfly spotted at the University of Bath
Small red-eyed damselfly spotted at the University of Bath

Press Release - 08 August 2006

Rare insect spotted for first time in Bath

A type of damselfly never before seen in the region has been spotted by the lake in the middle of the University of Bath campus.

The small red-eyed damselfly, Erythromma viridulum, was first found in Britain in Essex in 1999 and was discovered in the west country (near Swindon) for the first time at the end of July.

Common in northern Europe, the small red-eyed damselfly is rapidly establishing itself in colonies around ponds and lakes throughout Britain.

It was spotted by Dr Robert Kelsh, a development biologist at the University who has a keen interest in wildlife.

He went looking for the damselfly around the lake after reading reports of the sighting near Swindon and realising that the University’s lake offers the perfect habitat for the species.

“I was tempted to travel to go and see those near Swindon but thought I would have a look here first,” said Dr Kelsh.

“The University’s lake has a lot of lily pads and pondweed and having already recorded 12 different species of dragonfly and damselfly here, it seemed likely that it would be a good spot to look for the small red-eyed damselfly.”

The small red-eyed damselfly has a wingspan of 38 mm and is around 29 mm long. It has bright red eyes and fluorescent blue markings and is characterised by the patterning at the end of its tail.

“It is similar in appearance to the more common red-eyed damselfly but is much smaller and has brighter eye colouring,” said Dr Kelsh.

“It can be difficult to identify, but the give away is the characteristic marking on the tail. You need to get up close and know what you are looking for.

“It is great to have spotted an insect which is new to these parts for the first time. I have been back out to the lake since and have seen several mating pairs, so it looks like they are here to stay.”

Dr Kelsh has reported the sighting to the British Dragonfly Society and has sent them the photographs of the insect that he took.

Already, a number of people have visited the campus to see the small red-eyed damselfly for themselves.

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