What is known is that changes to the rural landscape have been affecting the population of these charming creatures over recent decades. Developments such as land drainage and the filling-in of ponds have certainly taken their toll, but exactly how much is difficult to assess. And this is where you come in, because conservation organisations desperately need your help in locating the remaining damselfly habitats. So, how do you go about this? Well, first of all, when you make what you think is a sighting of a damselfly, it is necessary to make a positive identification. The insect is similar to its close relation the dragonfly, but differs in several respects. Firstly, the dragonfly has a rapid, strong flight, while its damsel cousin is delicate with frail wings and is therefore relatively weak in flight. Secondly, you should try to observe the insect when it is at rest. When the dragonfly is not flying, its wings are held out at right angles to its body. This is in direct contrast to the damselfly which holds its wings over its body so that they are touching each other, rather like a butterfly. I would like to emphasise that this is a stronger distinguishing feature than, say, the eyes or body. As regards colouring, damselflies can be blue, red or green, but these are not ordinary colours, there's nothing muted about them. They are vivid and they sparkle in the sunlight like jewels as the insects dart about from place to place. And some of them have names that reflect this; the Emerald damselfly and the Azure damselfly, both of which may be spotted locally. It is, however, the more prosaically named Blue-tailed damselfly that is actually the most frequently sighted in the region. Whilst others you might see include the Common Blue damselfly, which is not as common as its name suggests, and the Large Red damselfly which is thought almost to have died out locally, and so it you should get a sighting of that one we'd certainly be interested in hearing about it. Now. where and when to look for them? Well, not surprisingly the summer months are best, from May onwards, but not much after August. It is a relatively short season. And you need to be looking in areas where there is water. Although you may find them in gardens, especially near slow-moving streams, damselflies really thrive in the vegetation that is found in and around still water. It is here that they find the smaller flying insects which are their prey and it is also here that they lay their eggs below the surface of the water. In terms of the best time of day, avoid the afternoon and evenings because these insects are definitely early-risers. The ideal time to catch up with them is soon after dawn. And so please, if you see damselflies, and if you find them as captivating as I do, then please don't just walk away and forget them. The Conservation Trust is keen to produce a survey of the remaining sites that provide a habitat and so put pressure on the authorities to preserve them for future generations, so do let them know what you see and where you see it.