The Ruddy Darter – Sympetrum sanguineum, is a mid-sized dragonfly that is easily overlooked due its very close resemblance to the Common Darter – Sympetrum striolatum.
|Libellulidae||Chasers, Skimmers, & Darters|
A small dragonfly that may often be overlooked at first glance owing to its resemblance to the slightly larger Common Darter – Sympetrum striolatum. As is usual with Darters, the male is of generally red appearance and the female appears generally yellow.
The male has an intensely red abdomen – its latin name derives from ‘of blood’. Characteristically, the abdomen is noticeably ‘waisted’ and narrows along its length before becoming wider and more bulbous towards the tip at segments 3 and 4. Segments 8 and 9 each have a dark spot on the medial line. Small and inconspicuous dark spots may be visible on the side of the abdomen, extending from the tip mid-way to the thorax. The thorax is red brown, and without any lateral markings. Eyes are dark red above and green below. The frons is red. Immature males resemble the female in colour, attaining their red colouring as they age.
The female abdomen is yellow and more slender than the male. Segments 8 and 9 each have a dark spot on the upper surface. A dark line then extends along the medial line of the abdomen almost to the thorax. The top of the thorax, immediately behind the head, features a dark ‘T’ shape. The eyes are dark brown above and yellow green below. The frons is yellow green.
In both sexes the wings are clear, suffused with a yellow or orange colouring at the base, and brown pterostigma outlined in black. The legs are completely black unlike other regional Darter species and make for a useful identification aid.
Overall length: 34 – 39 mm
Wings: 24 – 29 mm
Ruddy Darters are similar to other Darter species in the region, but is the only one to have all black legs – which can be obvious even from a distance when perched.
Mainly found around shallow still water sites with plenty of dense emergent vegetation.
Fairly common throughout the county at still water sites and slow rivers where dense vegetation exists.
I’ve seen them often at Felmersham NR, Marston Thrift, Priory CP, Warren Villas NR, less commonly at rivers.
Visible from mid June through to early October, peaking in August.