Blue Damselflies, also referred to as Bluets, are in every marsh and wet area in K-Country. In fact, several species of Blue Damselflies can be found. These include:
- Boreal Bluet, Enallagma boreale: This species is widespread in North America, including Alberta. The males have a bright blue coloration with black markings on their abdomen, while the females are pale blue or greenish-blue;
- Hagen’s Bluet, Enallagma hageni: Hagen’s Bluet is another species found in Alberta. The males have a blue coloration with thin black markings, while the females are usually greenish-blue or tan;
- Stream Bluet, Enallagma exsulans: Stream Bluet is a small damselfly species found in Alberta. The males have a vibrant blue color with thin black markings, and the females are usually greenish-blue or tan;
- Common Blue, Enallagma cyathigerum: Although more commonly found in Europe and parts of Asia, the Common Blue Damselfly is also present in Alberta. The males have a blue coloration with black markings on their abdomen, and the females are usually brown or greenish-brown.
You’ll note that for all of the above species, the males and females have different colourations. However, the males and females are virtually identical in the most common Bluet Damselfly in K-Country: the Tule Bluet, Enallagma carunculatum.
The most common Bluet
Tule Bluets are native to North America and have a relatively limited distribution. It is primarily found in western regions of North America, including parts of Canada and the United States. In Canada, it occurs in Alberta, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan. “Tule”, by the way, is the common name for a species of sedges where they live.
The Tule Bluet is a relatively small damselfly, with males measuring around 29 to 33 millimeters (1.1 to 1.3 inches) in length, and females slightly larger at around 30 to 35 millimeters (1.2 to 1.4 inches). Both males and females have a similar blue coloration, typically ranging from a pale to medium blue hue. The color intensity can vary between individuals.
Tules are predominantly found in wetland habitats, particularly in areas with emergent vegetation such as sedges and rushes. They can be observed near marshes, bogs, ponds, and slow-moving streams. This species tends to prefer habitats with ample vegetation cover and calm water.
Like other damselflies, the Tule Bluet exhibits a mating behavior known as the “mating wheel” pictured at right. During mating, the male grasps the female behind her head using specialized appendages at the end of his abdomen. This allows the transfer of sperm to the female. After mating, the female will lay her eggs in vegetation or submerged material within the water. You can see the size difference between the male and the female in the picture.
All Blue Damselflies undergo incomplete metamorphosis, meaning they have three life stages: egg, nymph, and adult. The eggs are laid in or near water, and upon hatching, the nymphs (also called larvae) live in the water and go through several molts as they grow. The nymphs are predatory, feeding on small invertebrates and even small fish. Once fully developed, they climb out of the water onto a plant stem or other structure, shed their nymphal skin, and emerge as adult damselflies.
The need for wetlands
The conservation status of the Tule Bluet is generally stable, and it is not considered to be a species of immediate concern. However, like many other damselflies and dragonflies, the loss and degradation of wetland habitats pose a potential threat to their populations. K-Country protects many wetland areas which are critical for Damselfly survival. Great places to see them include Sibbald Meadows Pond, Engadine Meadows, along any river in K-Country and around almost any alpine lake.
Find out about more of the cool critters and insects in K-Country here.