Ruddy Darter - Sympetrum sanguineum
Adult sizeOverall length: 34 - 39mm Hindwing length: 24 - 29m
Distinguishing featuresLess common than the similar Common Darter it can be distinguished by the blood-red colour in mature males and markedly waisted appearance. Has all black legs. Care must be taken with identification with females but can be done by looking for the right features. Can be found in similar habitats to Common Dater & has a similar late summer-autumn flight period.
Identification - for help with terms see glossary
HabitatCan be found at many still water sites; ponds, lakes, canals, ditches and sometimes sluggish rivers and streams. Often associated with very well vegetated habitats and in woodland sites.
BehaviourMales will be territorial as with other darters and will often find a perch such as a twig or log but often not close to the water’s edge. They are territorial and will chaser off intruders and other males. Females more likely to be found away from water. Like Common Darters, males and females can be seen in tandem while egg laying where the male will swing the female downwards dipping her abdomen in the water, but females will also do this alone.
Status and distributionMore common in eastern and southern England & Ireland, but increasingly its range north and westwards. Seems patchily distributed across Dorset but could be under recorded.
Flight periodMain flight period is June to October peaking in July & August.
Males may be confused with the Common Darter, however the latter is noticeably larger, and does not have a waisted appearance. Ruddy Darter legs are black not striped. The colour of a mature male Ruddy Darter is a much deeper blood-red than the Common Darter. Female Ruddy darters have no antehumeral stripes but do have a ‘T’ shaped marking on the top of the thorax. Female Black Darters have yellow and black stripes on the thorax when seen from the side with small yellow dots, unique to this species.
Click on the photos below to enlarge...
All photographs by kind permission & © of Ken Dolbear unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved.