Large Red Damselfly - Pyrrhosoma nymphula
Adult sizeLength: 33 - 36mm Hindwing Length: 19 - 24mm
Distinguishing featuresOne of two red damselflies, the Large Red Damselfly is more robust, has black legs, is very widely distributed and one of first damselflies to emerge in spring. Females occur in 3 variations.
Identification - for help with terms see glossary
Abdomen is a deep red with 3 narrow black bands on segments 6, 7 & 8. They have red antehumeral stripes on thorax and red eyes. Legs are all black.
Resemble pale versions of adults: have paler red abdomen, yellow antehumeral stripes and brownish eyes.
Occur in 3 forms; typica have thick black bands on segments 6 - 9, fulvipes has black bands on segments 7 – 9. Both have red antehumeral stripes. The form melanotum is predominantly black along the abdomen with small areas of red and yellow. Has yellow antehumeral stripes.
Tend, like immature males to be paler in colour with brownish eyes and yellow antehumeral stripes on thorax.
HabitatCan be found in almost any still water habitat and can tolerate a wide range of conditions from acid bogs to ponds, ditches and canals.
BehaviourMales will be very common resting on bankside vegetation, are generally territorial and are aggressive towards other males. Oviposition will occur in tandem where the male will guard the female.
Status and distributionVery common throughout the UK. Locally abundant in preferred habitat. Very common across a diversity of sites in Dorset.
Flight periodMain flight period is mid April to August. Numbers peak in June & July.
Similar speciesThe only other red damselfly is the Small Red Damselfly which is smaller, has red legs and red eyes and is restricted to acidic waters such as heathland, bogs and mires.
More photographsClick on the photos below to enlarge...
All photographs by kind permission & © of Ken Dolbear unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved.