Ischnura elegans | Blue-tailed Damselfly | Rinnghorm Coiteann



Conservation status

Ireland: Least Concern

EU: Least Concern

Based on the number of occupied hectads and the Area of Occupancy, this is the most widespread odonate species in Ireland

Native status


Species Biology


Length: 3.1cm

Wingspan: 3.5cm

Both sexes have bicoloured pterostigma. Males have blue, unbroken antehumeral stripes on the thorax, blue eyes and a black metallic abdomen which is yellow underneath. The abdomen has and entire bright blue segment (8) near the tip hence the name “blue-tailed”. The thorax is green in immature males but turns blue when mature.

The female can be a variety of colours, at least five. Each form is given a name.

  • In the immature stage the female can have violet coloured markings on the thorax and a violet coloured tail-spot (segment 8), this form is violacea.
  • Rufescens is another form when the female is immature, in this form the thorax is a salmon pink colour and the tail-spot is blue.
  • When the female is mature some will be in a blue form much like the male, typica.
  • Infuscans is when the female has an olive-green thorax and a brown tail-spot. 
  • A pale brown thorax and a brown tail-spot is the form infuscans-obseleta.
Both males and females have a dark metallic dorsal side of the abdomen.   



Found in a variety of habitats except for high ground and exposed areas. Breed in garden ponds, lakes, slow-flowing rivers, streams, canals, peaty pools and ditches. Usually the only damselfly found on very enriched water and brackish sites. Their preferred habitat is one with an abundance of submerged, emergent and floating plants. 

Flight period

May to September (occasionally April)


World distribution(GBIF)

Irish distribution

Very common all throughout Ireland. Absent from upland areas and intensely farmed lowland areas. 

Temporal change

Records submitted to Data Centre in 2024

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