Emerald Damselfly Lestes sponsa

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Length

35-39mm; Wingspan: Male 42mm; Female 45mm; Hindwing 19-22mm

Male

Emerald Damselfly - Lestes sponsa
Metallic green in colour. This species has a slow maturation period of two to four weeks, over this period a blue pruinescence appears on the thorax between wings and segments 1,2, 9 and 10. Eyes blue. Confusion species is Scarce Emerald Damselfly which is extinct in Yorkshire. Both sexes rest with wings half open.

Female

Emerald Damselfly - Lestes sponsa
Metallic green, with pale beige sides to the thorax. Distinctly thicker abdomen than male.

Gallery

Emerald Damselfly Gallery

Behaviour

Weak flyer usually remaining close to emergent vegetation, rarely going far over water. Copulation usually takes place close to breeding site and last from 30 minutes to over an hour. Females usually arrive to oviposit in tandem with the male. Oviposits in to stems of emergent grasses, rushes, sedges and horsetails, usually above surface, but can submerge, including the male. Fairly sedentary and can be absent from seemingly good sites.

Habitat

Still or slow moving water such as ponds, bogs, ditches, canals and lake edges with dense emergent vegetation. Tolerates brackish and acidic water. Sensitive to excessive clearance of emergent vegetation.

Flight Period

Status

Found at many sites through all Vice-counties.

Locations
Distribution Map

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Large Red Damselfly Pyrrhosoma nymphula

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Length

33-36mm; Wingspan: Male 44mm; Female 48mm; Hindwing 19-24mm

Male

The only red damselfly in Yorkshire and unlikely to be mistaken for anything else. Red abdomen, with black bands on segments 7 to 9. Thorax is black on the top with a red stripe (yellow in immatures). Black areas have a bronze tint.

Male Large Red Damselfly at Broomfleet Ponds Complex on 31/05/2009. - © Paul Ashton.

Male

Female

Occurs in three colour forms. The commonest form is typica, with black bands on most segments of the abdomen. Fulvipes is less well marked than typica and closely resembles the male. Melanotum is a dark from being mainly black, however the antehumeral stripes remain yellow (only yellow when immature in other forms).

Female typica form Large Red Damselfly at Tophill Low on 23/05/2010 - © Paul Ashton.

Female – typica

Gallery

Large Red Damselfly Gallery

Behaviour

This is the first damselfly to emerge each year in Yorkshire. It has a synchronous emergence, all emerging within a three week period, it is therefore shortly after emergence that this species is most abundant. Males emerge slightly earlier than females and also mature more quickly. Copulation lasts for around 15-20 minutes. Eggs are laid in tandem, the female may submerge taking the male with her. The life cycle is two years, on initially occupying a new site there may therefore only be adults found every other year.

Habitat

Has a wide habitat tolerance, including brackish and slightly polluted water, though avoids fast flowing water. Higher abundance in well vegetated, standing water.

Flight Period
Status

Evenly distributed across VC61-64, scarcer in VC65.

Locations
Distribution Map

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Red-eyed Damselfly Erythromma najas

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Length

33-37mm; Wingspan: Male 43mm; Female 46mm; Hindwing 19-24mm

Male

Mainly bronzed black with bright red eyes. Top of thorax lacking any antehumeral stripes. Segments 1, 9 and 10 are blue. Sides of thorax are blue with black line and spur present. Legs are black. Immature male is similar to female. Similar to Small Red-eyed Damselfly which is smaller, differences occur in the blue markings. At rest the wing tips reach in to segment eight, in Small Red-eyed Damselfly the wing tips only reach as far as segment 6 or 7. Generally holds its abdomen level, where as Small Red-eyed Damselfly often holds its abdomen slightly upcurved towards the end.

Male Red-eyed Damselfly at Broomfleet on 12/05/2011 - © Paul Ashton.

 

Female

Mainly black with green sides to thorax containing black line and spur. Segments 9 and 10 are black with narrow blue divisions. Eyes are a dull red colour. Usually have short shoulder stripes, though some lack them all together and some may form as explanation marks.

Female Red-eyed Damselfly at Broomfleet on 12/05/2011 - © Paul Ashton.

 

Gallery

Red-eyed Damselfly Gallery

Behaviour

Strong direct flight over water. Spend lots of time resting on broad floating leaves such as water lilies. Mats of algae and debris are also used and males may use surrounding shrubs if there is little floating vegetation. After emergence they will spend time away from water to mature. The first three weeks of emergence is probably the best time to encounter this species at close quarters. Females usually only appear at water to breed. Copulation takes place over water or on nearby vegetation. Egg laying is mainly in tandem, both sexes often submerging. They are laid mainly on the underside of Water Lilies, though other floating vegetation will be used.

Habitat

Preference for larger ponds, lakes and canals. Requires abundant floating vegetation, such as water-lilies Nymphaceae, or broad-leaved pondweed Potamogeton natans. When these are absent it may use floating algae mats, or rest on bankside vegetation.

Flight Period

Status

Species is at the northern edge of its range in Yorkshire.

Locations
Distribution Map

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Small Red-eyed Damselfly Erythromma viridulum

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Length

29mm; Wingspan: Male 38mm; Female 38mm; Hindwing 16-20mm

Male

Small Red-eyed Damselfly - Erythromma viridulum

Similar to Red-eyed Damselfly though distinctly smaller, more likely to be overlooked as Blue-tailed Damselfly. Lacks spots behind the eyes which are reddish-brown. Pale brown pterostigma. Black top to thorax with thin, broken antehumeral stripes. Thorax side is blue with a ‘Spur’ often ending in a spot. Underside of legs are pale. Abdomen dark on top except for S1, S9- S10 and sides of S2-S3 and S8 which are blue. S10 has a black mark, rather like an X, on the top. Wing tips just reach past the join of segment 6 and 7, Red-eyed Damselflies reach into segment 8. Often holds it’s abdomen slightly upcurved, Red-eyed Damselflies hold their abdomen level.

Female

Small Red-eyed Damselfly - Erythromma viridulum

Lack spots behind the eyes. Pale brown pterostigma. Black top to thorax with complete antehumeral stripes. Thorax side is blue-green. Abdomen is predominantly black with a wedge of colour on S10.

Gallery

Small Red-eyed Damselfly Gallery

Behaviour

During the day males appear constantly active, patrolling well away from the margin in search of females. Once copulation has taken place, they oviposit in tandem into stems and leaves of floating vegetation. They can often submerge for long periods of time. Larvae live among submerged water plants and emerge after one year on to floating vegetation.

Habitat

Ponds, lakes and ditches with plenty of floating vegetation such as Hornwort Ceratophyllum, Water-milfoil Myriophyllum and Waterweed Elodea. Also uses rafts of floating algae. Generally found in sheltered positions, with nearby trees and shrubs for roosting. Will tolerate brackish conditions.

Flight Period
Locations
Distribution Map

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Blue-tailed Damselfly Ischnura elegans

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Length

29-34mm; Wingspan: 35-40mm; Hindwing 14-21mm

Male

Dark bronze-black metallic with blue segment 8. Blue or green sides to the thorax and antehumeral stripes. Blue eye spots. Pterostigma is distinctive being bi-coloured black and white. Tips of the lower appendages diverge.

Male Blue-tailed Damselfly at Pocklington Canal on 22/06/2010 - © Paul Ashton.

 

Female

Occur in several colour forms dependent on age. Segment 8, though not always blue, is usually clearly different from the other sections. Start as either rufescens with a reddish-pink thorax and blue segment 8 or violacea with a violet thorax and antehumeral stripes, black humeral stripes and blue segment 8. After around eight days they mature and change colour, rufescens become greenish-brown of the form rufescens-obsoleta. The form violacea mature into two separate from. The first is infuscans which is a pale green colour, and retaining the black humeral stripes. The second is an andromorph form which adopts the same colours as a male.

Female Blue-tailed Damselfly at Pocklington Canal on 22/06/2010 - © Paul Ashton.

 

Gallery

Blue-tailed Damselfly Gallery

Behavior

Often found in marginal vegetation in large numbers. Copulation last from between two to six hours, due to this, it is the most frequently observed species seen in the wheel position. Often females selected by the males are still in their immature colour forms. Females oviposit alone onto the tissue of aquatic plants and debris, where they are not usually harassed by the males. Frequently found in dull weather when other species are inactive. Larvae emerge after one to two years.

Habitat

Wide range including garden ponds, lakes, rivers, canals and ditches. Can also be found in brackish conditions and acidic peaty pools. More tolerant of pollution than other species, only really avoiding fast-flowing water. Readily disperses and is one of the first species to colonise new sites.

Flight Period
Status

Common and widespread throughout the area.

Locations
Distribution Map

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Azure Damselfly Coenagrion puella

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Length

33mm, Wings 36-44mm

Males

Bright blue body with black markings; thorax black top with 2 thin antehumeral stripes; abdomen black U-shaped mark segment 2, segment 8 blue and 9 marked black; eyes bright spots not joined by a bar.

Male Azure Damselfly at Broomfleet Washlands on 22/06/2010 - © Paul Ashton.

 

Females

2 colour forms:-
1) Body green with black markings on upper surface; segment 2 with black thistle shape.
2) Blue form has “mercury” shape on segment 2; rest of black upper markings are more extensive; narrow pale antehumeral stripes.

Note: The shape of the pronotum is the only conclusive way to seperate this species from Variable Damselfly. Personal observations have highlighted that female Azure Damselflies lack the bar between the eye spots, compared to Variable Damselfly.

Female Azure Damselfly at Tophill Low on 15/05/2010 - © Paul Ashton.

02052011-azudam-female-broomfleet-barrywarrington

 

Comments

Initially this species is more abundant than the similar Common Blue Damselfly with which it can be easily confused. It is easy to make the mistake of identifying early blue damselflies as being Azure, then assuming on later visits that this is still the case. However after four of five weeks, Azure can suddenly become harder to find as Common Blue Damselfly become more abundant.

Gallery

Azure Damselfly Gallery

Habitat

Wide range of habitats from garden ponds, lakes, ditches, streams, canals and rivers to peaty pools. The main requirement is plenty of marginal vegetation in sheltered locations. Frequently settles on floating vegetation, as well as being readily found in adjacent grasslands and sheltered woodland edges.

Behavior

Not territorial. Copulation is prolonged on warm sunny days. Pairs oviposit in tandem into soft plant tissue, often submerging to do so. Larvae live among submerged vegetation and emerge after one year. Emergence takes place on marginal vegetation or flower spikes in the centre of water bodies. Females emerge first, followed a few days later by the males.

Flight Period
Status

Common

Locations
Distribution Map

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Common Blue Damselfly Enallagma cyathigerum

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Length

32mm, Wings 36-42mm

Male

Bright blue body with black markings on upper surface of abdomen, segment 2 has lollipop mark; segment 8 and 9 all blue; broad antehumeral stripes on black thorax; eye spot linked by bar.

Male Common Blue Damselfly at Broomfleet Washlands on 23/05/2010 - © Paul Ashton.

 

Female

3 colour forms:-
1) abdomen with black markings.
2) Green with black markings.
3) Brown with black markings. All have characteristic medial spine under segment 8, presumably puncturing plant material before inserting an egg.

17062010-comblu-female-reiverhertford-paulashton

 

Gallery

Common Blue Damselfly Gallery

Habitat

Large ponds and lakes are the main preference for this species. Can also be found along canals and rivers, but will also tolerate brackish conditions. The most abundant Zygoptera found in open areas.

Behavior

The most dominant species on large lakes and reservoirs, swarming over the waters surface far from the banks in sunny conditions. Readily settles on emergent vegetation and is aggressive towards others, even driving away larger species. Copulation lasts for around 20 minutes, frequently away from water. Oviposits into submerged and emergent vegetation, usually in tandem. If the female submerges the male will uncouple, guarding the area waiting for her to re-emerge. Females can submerge for up to an hour. Larvae live amongst submerged vegetation emerging after 1-3 years. They mature in surrounding areas over a period of around 12 days.

Flight Period

Status

Occurs on a wide range of varying water-bodies. Can be more conspicuous than the similar Azure Damselfly. Blue damselflies ranging far over open water are usually this species. Generally the most abundant blue damselfly at sites, where the Azure can be absent.

Locations
Distribution Map

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Common Hawker Aeshna juncea

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Length

74mm, Wings 95mm.

Males

Thorax top is black , narrow yellow antehumeral stripes and sides are brown with 2 narrow yellow thoracic stripes; abdomen black with pairs of yellow and blue spots including segments 9 and 10; legs black; wings have brilliant yellow costa.

22082009-comhaw-male-skipwith-paulashton

 

Females

Thorax brown; abdomen brown with paired yellow spots, sometimes green, rarely blue. Leading edge of the wing yellow.

23072010-comhaw-female-skipwith-paulashton

 

Gallery

Common Hawker Gallery

Habitat

Prefers acidic conditions, consisting of bog pools, ponds and lake margins on moorland and heathland. Will also use slow-flowing sections of upland streams. Requires areas of emergent vegetation to breed.

Behavior

Males are territorial, regularly chasing off intruders of any species. They are relentless flyers and can often be found active in dull conditions. Copulation takes from 60-75 minutes, with pairs usually settling amongst the heather, shrubs or trees. The female oviposits alone, inserting the eggs into submerged vegetation. Oviposition may take place in dull weather, when the first sign of activity is the sound of rustling wings in low vegetation. Larvae develop over a period of two or more years amongst the submerged vegetation. They emerge, usually at night, on emergent plant stems. They regularly wander away from breeding sites to feed in sheltered areas, such as woodland rides.

Flight Period

Locations
Distribution Map

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Migrant Hawker Aeshna mixta

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Length

63mm, Wings 87mm

Males

Thorax brown with broad thoracic stripes, with short indistinct antehumeral stripes; abdomen brown, yellow triangle mark on segment 2, separate pairs of blue spots along rest of abdomen; legs brown; eyes bluish; wings have brown costa.

Migrant Hawker at Spurn on 25/08/2009. - © Michael Flowers.

 

Females

Thorax antehumeral stripes very restricted, often missing; abdomen brown with small yellow-brown spots; long anal appendages. Brown costa, leading edge to the wing.

Female Migrant Hawker at North Cave Wetlands on 01/09/2009. - © Paul Ashton.

 

Gallery

Migrant Hawker Gallery

Habitat

Still or slow-flowing waters including ponds, lakes, sand and gravel pits, reservoirs, slow-flowing rivers, canals and ditches. Will tolerate brackish conditions, though avoids acidic water.

Behavior

None territorial and often present in high densities with little sign of aggression. Frequently hovers, searching for females in marginal vegetation. Both sexes can be found well away from water in sheltered locations, such as woodland rides and hedgerows. Regularly found perched in the open. Copulation is lengthy and once complete, the female will oviposit alone. Oviposition usually occurs into emergent plants above the water, though occasionally in bare mud. Emergence usually occurs the following year, often during the night. Despite being abundant late in the season, few exuviae have been found. Those that have been recovered are usually found low down in thick vegetation. Due to the lack of breeding data, it would suggest that the majority of adults observed are migratory individuals.

Flight Period

Locations
Distribution Map

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Southern Hawker Aeshna cyanea

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Length

70mm, Wings 98mm.

Males

Thorax – green and brown with broad green antehumeral stripes; abdomen – yellow triangle segment 2, green spots segments 3-8; undivided blue spots segments 9-10; wings brownish tinge; legs brown-black.

22082007-souhaw-male-northcliffe-paulashton

 

Females

Thorax – green and brown with broad green antehumeral stripes; abdomen brown with green spots, undivided green spots on segments 9-10.

2003-souhaw-female-paulashton

 

Gallery

Southern Hawker Gallery

Habitat

Lakes and ponds, including small garden ponds where it is the most likely Aeshnidae to be encountered. Also found along canals and ditches. Will feed away from breeding sites, sometimes being encountered in sheltered areas, such as woodland rides and hedgerows.

Behavior

Males are territorial, with a single male usually found at a small pond. There is however a constant change of males throughout the day. This is an inquisitive species, often approaching close to the observer. They can be active in dull weather, often on the wing late into the evening, even hunting when it is raining. Copulation takes place away from water, lasting for around two hours. The female oviposits into waterside vegetation, moss or bare soil above water, often in poor weather. Larvae emerge after two to three years on tall marginal vegetation. They mature away from water over a four to six week period, before returning to suitable sites to breed.

Flight Period
Locations
Distribution Map

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Brown Hawker Aeshna grandis

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Length

73mm, Wings 102mm.

Males

Thorax brown; abdomen brown with bright blue spots at sides; wings characteristically honey brown colour; legs pale brown.

01072011-brohaw-male-weltonwaters-barrywarrington

 

Females

As males except blue spots on abdomen replaced with yellow markings.

02072011-brohaw-tophilllow-paulashton

 

Gallery

Brown Hawker Gallery

Habitat

Lakes, ponds, gravel pits, canals, ditches and slow-flowing rivers. Will tolerate moderate levels of pollution.

Behavior

Males are territorial, even defending territories away from water. They are often observed hawking along woodland rides and hedgerows. This is a difficult species to approach when settled, the first sign of their presence is usually the rustling of wings, as the fly up from roosting places in tall grasses. Copulation is lengthy, the female then ovipositing into emergent floating vegetation, or decaying floating logs, where several females may oviposit together. Larvae emerge two to four years later at night, with the maiden flight taking place before dawn.

Flight Period

Locations
Distribution Map

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Emperor Dragonfly Anax imperator

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Length

78mm Wings, 106mm.

Males

Thorax bright green; abdomen blue with black central line; legs black; eyes green; wings clear with yellow costa.

Male Emperor Dragonfly at Farnham Lakes on 11/07/2009. - © Stuart Roebuck.

 

Females

Generally greenish with thicker black central abdominal line.

02072011-empdra-tophilllow-paulashton

 

Gallery

Emperor Dragonfly Gallery

Habitat

Ponds, lakes, gravel pits, dykes, canals and slow-flowing rivers with rich marginal vegetation, also tolerant of brackish conditions. Seldom found far away from water.

Behavior

Males are territorial, rarely more than one male is present at small locations. Constantly patrols its territory, which it defends vigorously. Will take prey as large as Four-spotted Chaser Libellula quadrimaculata. Copulation takes place away from water and lasts around ten minutes. The female then oviposits alone into submerged vegetation. Larvae emerge after two years on to tall emergent vegetation. Emergence is usually synchronous at site level.

Flight Period
Locations
Distribution Map

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Hairy Dragonfly Brachytron pratense

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Male

The only ‘Hawker’ species flying during May and much of June, with a slight overlap with Southern Hawker at the end of June. Thorax and abdomen distinctly hairy. Side of the thorax predominantly green, lacking the paired thoracic stripes of other ‘hawker’ species, with tapering green antehumeral stripes on the top. Abdomen has small blue paired spots.

120511-hairdra-male-broomfleet-paulashton

 

Female

Thorax and abdomen distinctly hairy. Side of the thorax predominantly green, lacking the paired thoracic stripes of other ‘hawker’ species, with restricted, or absent, antehumeral stripes on the top. Abdomen has small yellow paired spots.

Female Hairy Dragonfly at Broomfleet on 12/05/2011 - © Paul Ashton.

 

Gallery

Hairy Dragonfly Gallery

Habitat

Ponds, lakes, canals, ditches, dykes and marshy fens with tall emergent vegetation, such as rushes, reeds and sedges. Requires abundant floating vegetation for oviposition.

Behaviour

Early flight period is characteristic. Quickly settles when the sun goes in, compared to other Aeshnidae species, making it less easy to find in dull conditions. Males are territorial and patrol in and out of vegetation at low level. Can be found away from water in sheltered areas, though males will generally not wander far. Females only come to water to find a mate and oviposit. Copulation is long, taking place in nearby trees and shrubs, or long vegetation along the banks. The female oviposits into decomposing floating vegetation.

Flight Period
Status

Mainly VC61 and VC63, currently expanding its range.

Locations
Distribution Map

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Four-spotted Chaser Libellula quadrimaculata

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Length

43mm, Wings 76mm

Males

Four-spotted Chaser at Tophill Low - 02/07/2011
Thorax brown, no antehumeral stripes; abdomen brown, last 4 segments darker than the rest, yellow spots on sides; wings dark patches at nodes on leading edges and at bases of rear wings.

 

Females

Four-spotted Chaser - Libellula quadrimaculata
Similar to males, main difference is the shape of the anal appendages.

 

Gallery

Four-spotted Chaser Gallery

Habitat

Prefers sites of still water consisting of lakes, ponds, bog pools, canals and dykes. Will tolerate brackish conditions. The largest concentrations are associated with acidic ponds and pools.

Behavior

Males are territorial, their noisy clashes are obvious where densities are high. Readily returns to the same perch on emergent vegetation, after sparring with other males, or after short patrols along the waters edge. Copulation is short taking place in flight, only lasting for 5-20 seconds. Female oviposits by flicking the abdomen tip downwards into the water. The eggs then sink and adhere to submerged vegetation. Males may stay close by to guard females during oviposition. Larvae live among the bottom debris, then emerge after two to four years. Emergence takes place amongst marginal vegetation during daylight hours.

Flight Period
Locations
Distribution Map

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Black-tailed Skimmer Orthetrum cancellatum

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Length

50mm, Wings 78mm

Males

Black-tailed Skimmer - Orthetrum cancellatum
Thorax black, no antehumeral stripes; Abdomen top is blue with yellow spots towards sides, black tip; legs black.

Females

Black-tailed Skimmer - Orthetrum cancellatum
All yellow with 2 black bands on upper surface abdomen.

Gallery

Black-tailed Skimmer Gallery

Habitat

Prefers lakes, ponds, gravel workings, slow rivers or marshes, with exposed mud, stones or bare patches where the male can perch.

Behavior

Highly territorial, males perch on bare areas of ground, typically on slightly raised areas such as stones, logs or bare soil, on the lookout for females and rival males. When patrolling over water they fly low, skimming over the surface. Copulation can take place in flight, where it will only last for a few seconds, though sometimes this can take place in vegetation where it may last up to 15 minutes. Oviposition occurs by dipping the abdomen into water, with the male often remaining nearby. Larvae live amongst the bottom silts, emerging after two to three years. Emergence usually takes place on vegetation, often several metres away from water.

Flight Period

Locations
Distribution Map

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Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum

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Length

37mm, Wings 57mm.

Males

Common Darter - Sympetrum striolatum
Thorax brown with yellow patches on sides; abdomen orange/red with black central line last 2 segments ; legs black/yellow; eyes brownish; black line on top of the frons only.

Females

Common Darter - Sympetrum striolatum
Thorax pale brown with yellow side panels; abdomen yellow with black central line segments 9-10 and along sides. Old females tend to take on male colours.

Gallery

Common Darter Gallery

Habitat

Preferences are quite catholic, including ponds, lakes, canals, ditches and slow-flowing rivers. It is tolerant of brackish conditions and peaty bog pools. Can be found away from breeding sites feeding in sheltered locations, like woodland rides and hedgerows.

Behavior

Males are territorial, spending a lot of time perched, only making short flights when disturbed or chasing off intruders. Basks on the ground, especially late in the season when temperatures are lower. Frequently found away from water in sheltered areas, especially females wanting to avoid attention from males. Copulation takes place at rest, lasting around 10-15 minutes. Oviposition regularly takes place in tandem, where the eggs are flicked into the water by dipping the abdomen onto the surface. Females will also oviposit alone. Larvae emerge after one year, this taking place during the morning, onto bare bank sides or emergent vegetation.

Flight Period

Locations
Distribution Map

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Ruddy Darter Sympetrum sanguineum

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Length

34mm, Wings 55mm.

Males

Ruddy Darter - Sympetrum sanguineum
Thorax brown with 2 thin black lines on sides; abdomen narrow waist, rich red colour; face red; legs all black; line over frons spreads down the sides.

Females

Ruddy Darter - Sympetrum sanguineum
Yellowish throughout with black markings on sides of thorax and abdomen; legs all black.

Gallery

Ruddy Darter Gallery

Habitat

Marshes, ponds, lakes, canals and ditches, with plenty of tall emergent vegetation. Will tolerate brackish conditions, using woodland near to water bodies for shelter.

Behavior

Males are less aggressively territorial than Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum. They have a ‘skippy’ flight, being less direct than the latter species. Copulation lasts only a few minutes whilst perched on vegetation or the ground. The female will then oviposit either alone, or in tandem, amongst shaded vegetation. Larvae live among submerged plants and emerge after one year.

Flight Period

Locations
Distribution Map

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