Willow Emerald damselfly colonisation of Bexley takes a leap forward

The Willow Emerald damselfly (Chalcolestes viridis), a recent natural colonist of the UK, was first found in Bexley in September 2016. Now into its second known flight season here, it has been found at three more sites in the Borough over the last month, cementing its status as a resident species.  

In the second half of July this year it was found in the Bexley part of Thamesmead, on the canal between Crossway and the north end of Wilsham Close, by David Courtneidge, Project Officer (South) for LWT’s Water for Wildlife project, who is leading Odonata surveys in our area.

On August 16th former Bexley Council Biodiversity Officer John Archer found two Willow Emerald Damselflies by the first pond along the Ridgeway from the Thames path towards the former golf course. 

Female Willow Emerald damselfly, near the Ridgeway in Bexley. 16/8/17. (Photo: John Archer)

Ian Stewart then found at least 8 of the insects at Lamorbey on August 22nd, another new site record.

Male Willow Emerald at Lamorbey, 22/8/17. (Photo: Ian Stewart)

Another shot of a Male Willow Emerald at Lamorbey. (Photo: Ian Stewart)

Ian was the first to discover the species in Bexley when he came across it at Foots Cray Meadows on 24th September 2016, shortly after he had seen it over the border at Ruxley on the the 6th.

The rapid spread of this species in Bexley mirrors the situation in  southern and eastern England more generally. 

Is it now at Crossness LNR, or at Danson Park, between our southern and northern locations? It could be on Crayford Marshes, though the ditch system is largely inaccessible. We are continuing to watch for it at Thames Road Wetland, but no joy up to the last visit on 11th August.

Chris Rose

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