Ruddy Darter

Sympetrum sanguineum

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Length: 34-36mm

Flight period: June to October

This species is smaller than the Common Darter. The legs are entirely black. An intense orange colouration can be seen only at the very base of the wings. The pterostigma is brown. There are usually two prominent black marks on S8 and S9.

Male: becomes blood-red with maturity with a red frons and red-brown thorax. There is a very noticeable constriction of the abdomen around S4, giving a club-shaped appearence.

Female: ochre yellow abdomen and thorax. There is no red panel on the side of the thorax. Older females may develop some red along the midline and segment boundaries of the abdomen.


Inhabits weedy ponds and ditches, frequently in woodland.

Status & Distribution

Resident in south-east England and central Ireland but increasing its range.

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Similar species

The various resident and migrant species of Darter in the UK are easily confused, the females being particularly difficult to tell apart. This species has all black legs and the waisted appearence of the blood-red male helps with identification.