Darters, Chasers and Skimmers

Choose which of the following groups most closely matches your specimen

Be aware that females and immatures can be particularly similar between species


Click on an image to enlarge it



Relatively slim body. UK: 4 species (plus 4 migrant)




Common Darter

Distribution: Common throughout

Both: Yellow stripe on legs (fades with age)

Male: orange-red body, with a mostly brown thorax. Immatures are yellow

Female: yellow with small black markings. Can go orangey-red or dull with age

Flight Period: May to November

Ruddy Darter

Distribution: widespread, locally common

Both: All black legs.

Male: blood red body, including face and eyes, with a strongly waisted body and bulbous tip.  Immatures are yellow.

Female: yellow with thin black markings on the body and a black 'T' shape on the thorax. Can go dull with age.

Flight Period: June to October

Black Darter

Distribution: widespread, locally common

Both: all black legs

Male: black with some very small yellow markings. A pronounced waist. Immatures are yellow.

Female: yellow with broad black markings and a black triangle at the top of the thorax.

Flight Period: June to October (sometimes early November)

White-faced Darter

Distribution: scarce and local (GB Red List: Endangered)

Both: a white face

Male: black with red markings (immatures have yellow markings).

Female: black with yellow markings. 

Flight Period: May to July (sometimes April to August)



Generally very broad-bodied. UK: 3 species.




Broad-bodied Chaser 

Distribution: widespread, common in the south

Both: dark mark on the wing base and bright shoulder stripes

Male: pale blue body with yellow dots on the side

Female: golden-brown body with yellow dots on the side.

Flight Period: May to July (sometimes April to September)

Scarce Chaser

Distribution: very local, sometimes abundant

Both:  Distinctively shaped dark marks on the wings

Male: pale blue body with black marks and blue eyes

Female: Golden-brown with a central black line getting wider towards the tip

Flight Period: April to July (sometimes early August) 

Four spotted Chaser

Distribution: common and widespread

Both: Golden-brown body with black tail and yellow edges. Distinctive dark marks in the middle of each wing.



Never with dark marks at base of wings. UK: 2 species.

Black-tailed Skimmer

Distribution: locally common, increasing

Male: blue body with a black tip and dark wing spots but no dark mark at the wing base

Female: Yellow with a black ladder shaped mark up the body. Can turn grey with age

Flight Period: May to September (sometimes April to October)


Keeled Skimmer

Distribution: scarce and local

Both: pale wing spots

Male: blue without a black tip but with some black marks and pale wing spots. Dark blue shoulder stripes. Immatures are like females

Female: yellow-brown with a pattern of black horizontal and vertical stripes and pale shoulder stripes. Some yellow wing veins

Flight Period: July to September (sometimes May)


Images from top, left to right: both David Kitching, Peter Hunt, David Kitching, Quartl, David Kitching, David Kitching, Damian Pinguey, Val Perrin, David Kitching, Val Perrin, Neil Malton, both David Kitching, both David Kitching, David Kitching, Christian Fischer