Ruddy Darter - Sympetrum sanguineum


A medium-sized dragonfly. Males are crimson red, females are ochre. The abdomen is slightly 'waisted'. Both sexes have all black legs (other red darters have a yellow stripe).

Similar Species

The Ruddy Darter is slightly smaller than the Common Darter with a 'waisted' abdomen and club-shaped tip. Males are bright red. Females are very similar to female Common Darters but have all black legs.

Identification difficulty

It favours shallow water with lots of emergent vegetation.

When to see it

July to October.

Life History

Away from the water both sexes usually perch in a tree or bush facing out over open space where they can scan for prey. They will usually return to the same perch after chasing prey or seeing off a rival.

UK Status

Most British records come from central and southern England

VC55 Status

In Leicestershire & Rutland it has a scattered distribution and although it has become more common in recent years it remains infrequent.

Further Information

Like the Emerald Damselfly, this species favours shallow water sites with dense stands of emergent vegetation and consequently the two species often occur side-by-side. Similarly, such a specific habitat preference means that this species has a rather local and scattered distribution within VC 55. Historically this species seems to have had an even more local distribution than at present. Mendel (1980) cites just a handful of recorded occurrences, though Robertson (1953) recorded the Ruddy Darter as being 'numerous along several hundred yards of the Grand Union Canal in the Wigston and Kilby district'.

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Leicestershire & Rutland Map


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

UK Map