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Common Darter Dragonfly

Scientific Name: Sympetrum striolatum

picture of a female Common Darter Dragonfly
A female Common Darter dragonfly.

The Common Darter Dragonfly is one of the shorter species of dragonfly found in the British Isles. They can be seen between mid June and October, often basking on a warm surface, as in the picture above. This is a female which has a yellow-brown abdomen and is fairly uniform in girth along its length; the male has a red abdomen with a narrowing in the middle like the shape of a dart, which gives this group their name - Darter. The wingspan is about 55mm.
The adults feed on smaller insects such as the midges which annoy us gardeners as we do our work.

picture of a male Common Darter Dragonfly
A male Common Darter dragonfly.

They breed in still ponds and sheltered lakes. After the male has attached itself to the female they mate on a perch and remain conjoined as they fly off and hover over the water. The male dips down to allow the female to deposit the eggs below the surface. The larvae live around the marginal vegetation feeding on tiny water creatures and remain in the water for a year.

See also the Common Hawker Dragonfly

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