Large Red Damselfly – Pyrrhosoma nymphula

European common name: Large Red Damsel

The Large Red Damselfly – Pyrrhosoma nymphula, is an early season damselfly – typically the first to emerge in spring, and the region’s only red damselfly.


CoenagrionidaeBlue or red Damselflies

Bedfordshire’s only red damselfly, making identification relatively straightforward.

The male is predominantly red, with black and yellow (but becoming more red with age) stripes on the thorax, and black markings on the upper surface of segments 7, 8 & 9.

The female occurs in 3 forms:

  • fulvipes (similar to the male, mostly red but with black extending to segment 5)
  • typica (all segments at least partly black)
  • melanotum (abdomen mostly black, thorax has prominent yellow stripes)

Overall length: 33 – 36 mm
Wings: 19 – 24 mm

Not easily confused with any other damselfly species occurring in Bedfordshire due to its colouring, but is similar to the much scarcer Small Red Damselfly – Ceriagrion tenellum, which isn’t usually found in the region.

Separating the two species is most easily done by noting the black legs of the Large Red, compared to the red legs of the Small Red.

Prefers still, well vegetated waters – ponds, lakes, ditches etc. Found away from water in wooded areas where they will congregate to feed.

May be found across the county at suitable sites. Regularly encountered at Felmersham NR, Marston Thrift, and also along the River Great Ouse near Kempston. They are also reported at Flitwick Moor, Duck End NR, and Priory CP. 

Visible early in the season, from mid April through to late July, peaking in May.

Large Red Damselfly - Pyrrhosoma nymphula Male, between Kempston and Bromham.
Male Large Red Damselfly – Pyrrhosoma nymphula
Large Red Damselfly - Pyrrhosoma nymphula Female, Felmersham NR. This is the 'typica' form.
Female Large Red Damselfly - Pyrrhosoma nymphula 'typica' form

External links for Large Red Damselfly – Pyrrhosoma nymphula:
British Dragonfly Society | Wikipedia