Ruddy Darter male - Sympetrum sanguineum, click for a larger image, licensed for reuse
Male, photo ©2013 - Jörg Hempel
Ruddy Darter female - Sympetrum sanguineum, click for a larger image, licensed for reuse
Female, photo ©2013 - Jörg Hempel
Click any photo for a larger image

Ruddy Darter - Sympetrum sanguineum
Family - Libellulidae

The Ruddy Darter at 34-36mm (1.3-1.4in) long with a 6cm (2.4in) wingspan is similar to but smaller than the Common Darter, but it has entirely black legs.  The Common Darter has yellow longitudinal stripes on the legs.  It is a European - species of dragonfly that is a resident of southern England but with an increasing range.  They inhabit weedy ponds and ditches and is frequently seen in woodland between the months of July and November.  Colour in the wings can be seen only at the very base.  The pterostigma is brown and there are usually two prominent black marks on segments S8 and S9 of the abdomen which also has a noticeable constriction around S4, giving it a club-shaped appearance.

As they mature the males ♂ become blood-red in colour and have a red-brown thorax, whilst the slightly smaller females ♀ have an ochre yellow abdomen and thorax.  Mating takes place on the wing, with the coupled pair performing a dipping flight over the water.  The female jettisons her fertilised eggs at the water surface whilst the male hovers nearby and protects the female by driving off any approaching males.  The larvae spend the year beneath the water surface before emerging and pupating into adults.

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