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Sympetrum danae - Black Darter dragonfly

Phylum: Arthropoda - Class: Insecta - Order: Odonata - Family: Libellulidae

Black Darter dragonfly (male)

Males of this species are the only black dragonflies found in Britain and Ireland. Females are less distinctive but can be identified by their black legs, black pterostigma (wing spots), yellow abdomen, brown thorax and brown eyes.

Closeup of Sympetrum danae head and thorax

The typical body length is 32mm, making this the smallest of Britain's resident dragonflies. A mature male is shown in the picture above and a more colourful male in the picture below.

Black Darter dragonfly (male), West Wales

Habitat

The Black Darter is an insect of wet acidic heathland and peat bogs.

Lifecycle

Females lay their eggs by dipping their abdomens into the water, either near floating weeds or more often near to the margins. The nymphs emerge from the eggs in springtime and develop rapidly, emerging after just a couple of months.

In Britain and Ireland the adults can usually be seen on the wing from late June until towards the end of November..

There are about forty species of dragonflies and damselflies in the British Isles, although some are now quite rare and hardly ever seen.


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