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Sympetrum fonscolombii - Red-veined Darter dragonfly

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

Red-veined Darter, Spain

Brilliant red and with red leading-edge wing veins and a yellow or orange pterostigma boldly outlined in black, mature males (above) are very easily identified, even at a distance.

Female Red-veined Darter, Spain

Abdomens of females (above) of this lovely dragonfly are ochre to yellow-brown with two black lines along each side. They have yellowish wing veins, and at first glance they could easily be mistaken for one of several other Sympetrum species.

Red-veined darter (male), top view

Description

As with other members of the Sympetrum genus, these are smallish dragonflies, the bodies typically 3.8 to 4cm long, and they are not particularly shy. If you move slowly and smoothly enough it is often possible to get very close to a Red-veined Darter.

Red-veined Darter

Distribution

We see the Red-veined darter quite frequently in southern Portugal and Spain, as it is a dragonfly of warm parts of southern and central Europe, including Madeira, the Canary Islands, the Mediterranean islands, much of the Middle East and some parts of southwest Asia including Sri-Lanka, India, and Mongolia.

Occasionally, migrants reach Britain, where they are most frequently sighted in the southern and south-western counties of England and Wales, although sometimes they stray as far north as central Scotland.

Habitat

This lovely dragonfly favours shallow pools and stream backwaters.

Lifecycle

The Red-veined Darter can be seen on the wing throughout the year in the southern part of its range, but the main flight period is from May to October. These dragonflies produce two or more generations each year, with the eggs hatching into larvae and then developing to the winged adult stage in a period of about three months.

After mating, the male and female fly in tandem for the purpose of egg laying, and the female dips her abdomen in the water to release the eggs.

The specimens shown on this page were photographed in Spain and southern Portugal.

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