Dragonfly species in Monmouthshire: Black Darter

Distribution map of Black Darter in Monmouthshire, March 2024
Distribution map of Black Darter in Monmouthshire, March 2024, produced using the DMAP for Windows software written by Alan Morton, www.dmap.co.uk

Male and female Black Darters, photographed in Monmouthshire in 2022 by Richard Clarke

Black Darter (Sympetrum danae) is a localised dragonfly species in the county, found almost exclusively in the uplands of the north west.

The oldest record in our data set is from the Blorenge on an unspecified date in the period 1975 to 1981 (observer Bill Keen).

It very occasionally wanders away from the northwest. The only confirmed record in lowland habitat in Monmouthshire was a male which Kevin Dupé saw at Gwastad Mawr on the edge of Newport on 6 September 1999.

Current distribution in the county: what we know

Post-2019 records come from three moorland areas: (i) around Blaenavon, west to Ebbw Vale and south to Varteg, (ii) the area from Pontypool southwest to Cwmcarn forest and (iii) the Tirpentwys canyon area.

Current distribution in the county: what we don’t know

There are many older records from other areas of the uplands, and it is possible that Black Darter is still present in some of those areas too; the lack of post-2019 records away from the areas above is likely to be because no-one has visited these sites to record dragonflies recently.

Distribution elsewhere

Black Darter is found widely across Wales although its distribution is limited by the availability of suitable habitat which means that there are some areas where it is scarce or absent (e.g. southwest Wales, where it is scarce away from the Preseli mountains, and northeast areas of the country). In England, it is found on heathland from Cornwall to Surrey and on moorland from the west Midlands northwards, with small outlying populations elsewhere. It is widespread and common in Scotland as far north as Orkney. Elsewhere in Europe, it is found from Ireland and the Pyrenees east to Russia, and from the Alps north to Scandinavia and Finland, but is absent from southern areas. Its range extends across Asia to the Pacific and it is also found widely in northern and western North America.