Compare with: common darter

Ruddy darter Sympetrum sanguineum

Best time to see: Aug to end Sep

Key facts

A small, bright crimson dragonfly (female is ochre) with a bouncing flight

Habitat: shallow, well-vegetated water bodies and occasionally streams, frequently in woodland

Strongest in south-east England in Britain, also throughout Europe; regular immigration from Europe each summer


Male has waisted blood-red abdomen, female ochre yellow; both sexes have completely black legs

Males often perches among vegetation beside shallow water bodies in woodland; bouncing flight with periods of hovering

Flies from late June to late autumn


Females lay groups of eggs in sticky jelly over submerged or waterside plants or damp mud, in tandem with the male

Larvae live among plant roots, develop within a year

Larvae climb a plant stem to emerge as adults in early morning between late June and September

© Tony Gunton

© Pat Allen

© Tony Gunton