Red-veined Darter - Sympetrum fonscolombii


Length: 38 to 40 mm.The bright red males and clear yellow-brown females are attractive. The eyes are brown above and blue below and the wing bases are yellow. The pterostigma is yellow to orange strongly outlined in black. The males become a deep red with maturity with red veins on the wings, particularly on the leading edges. The frons and the thorax are red-brown. Females have a ochre yellow abdomen with two black lines along each side. The wing veins are yellow at the costa, leading edge and base. Immature males are coloured as the females but have only a single line along each side of the abdomen.  

Identification difficulty

As a long-distance migrant this species can occur practically anywhere. Locally bred specimens will likely favour a variety of shallow water ponds, lakes, rivers and ditches. 

When to see it

June to early October.

Life History

Breeds nearly annually in Britain, but colonies seemingly not stable. 

UK Status

Recent colonist (first records 1999). Local but spreading spectacularly through southeast England and the Isle of Wight.

VC55 Status

Rare in Leicestershire and Rutland. First recorded in our area as an assumed migrant in 2002, the numbers recorded have increased since then.

Further Information

Historically the Red-veined Darter has been regarded as a migrant to the British Isles, with scattered records being documented in most years. Prior to 2006 this species maintained a similar status in VC 55, with just two records of what were assumed to be migrants appearing on the LRDG database. These were of a female at Huncote in June 1992 and a male at Kelham Bridge NR in July 1992. Coinciding with a number of widespread proven breeding occurrences in Britain, up to 12 fresh teneral Red-veined Darters were recorded at Huncote in 2006. The initial observation was made on 3rd September and the last on 7th October, with local emergence being strongly suspected. Additionally a further four male Red-veined Darters were observed at Priory Water in 2006, between mid June and early August, though there was no reason to suspect breeding at this site.

Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map