Regular correspondent Bob emailed a picture of a Damselfy he was having trouble identifying. The difficulty with Damselflies is that usually the male, female and immature examples are very different and are sometimes available in multiple colour forms beyond that. But also some species are remarkably similar and hard to pick apart.

However after a bit of a hunt I'm pretty sure it is either a female Azure damselfly or female Common blue damselfly (though the pictures on that last link don't show it, due to aforementioned variations).

Apparently the female Azure damselfly "can be distinguished from females of the Common blue damselfly by the absence of a spine below the 8th abdominal segment". Unfortunately the photo doesn't lend itself to making that judgement and I'm not entirely sure what to look for anyway, being unfamiliar with such spines. It can get pretty technical and into the really fine detail apparently! Are there any insect experts out there who can help?

Update: Thanks to S Barton who posted a comment with this great BBC page which has a couple of very clearly described and illustrated tips to tell Azure from Common blue. And with its help, our picture above is clearly an Azure.

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  1. It’s not a female Common Blue as they are black and green. All male Coenagrion species have pale spots behind the eyes as in the photo so more than likely it is male. Also markings on second abdominal segment do not resemble Common Blue or Azure. I’m thinking possibly Blue-tailed.

  2. The image shows a thistle mark on segment two and Blue inter-segment lines, both indicative of female Azure, though female Blues are never easy :).
    The best on-line ID I know of is Chris Brooks Photography,(, the ID page for Azure is
    This is I believe a Female Light form Common Blue … taken by myself a few days ago, though I could be wrong 🙂

  3. They really are tricky little suckers, and I am no expert and struggle like everyone else but I am pretty sure that it cannot be a Common Blue becuase of the “coenagrion spur” which does not occur on Common Blue but does on Azure . This spur is the small black line on the thorax jutting forward from the wing base to a third of the way along the thorax.
    Unfortunately that is about the limit of my Damsel ID skill !

  4. Well so far we have a mix of conflicting theories from people who sound like they know what they’re talking about. If nothing else this reinforces my suggestion that Damselflies can be tough to identify!

  5. Another vote for Azure from me, in agreement with Pete. I always find the ‘spur’ the easiest thing to look for (but no Variable Damselflies in my neck of the woods for extra confusion!).

  6. Why not send the picture to they are usually very good at identifying creatures.

  7. Toffeeapple – now where would be the fun in that? 🙂
    I’m fairly well convinced it’s a female Azure.

  8. i think it is a femail Azure as well
    hear is a handy link if anyone needs help identifying them—an.shtml

  9. S Barton – thanks, that’s a really good page you’ve posted. Very definitive with good pictures!

  10. thats ok i just found it the other day while i was trying to id some photos i had taken

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