Compare with: ruddy darter

Common darter Sympetrum striolatum

Best time to see: mid Jun to early Oct

Key facts

A small, restless dragonfly, common along banksides

Habitat: ponds, lakes, ditches and rivers, tolerating all but shaded or polluted sites

Common and sometimes abundant throughout England, Wales and Ireland


Males have orange-red abdomen and legs striped with yellow; females have a yellowish to light-brown abdomen

Restless flight; regularly perches on bankside plants and, unlike most other darters, on the ground when cool

Flies from mid-June to early October


Females lay groups of eggs in sticky jelly over submerged plants, often in tandem with the male

Eggs laid before autumn hatch in about two weeks, otherwise the next spring, and larvae develop in one year

Larvae leave the water to emerge as adults in early morning from mid-June to early October

© Andy McGeeney

© Andy McGeeney