Dragonfly species in Monmouthshire: Common Darter

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

Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) is the most common and widespread of the smaller dragonfly species in the county; over most of the county, a darter dragonfly will be this species rather than Ruddy Darter (S. sanguineum) or Black Darter (S. danae).

The oldest record in our data set is from the Newport area, on an unspecified date in 1949 (observer J. L. Jones).

Current distribution in the county: what we know

There are many post-2019 records across the Gwent Levels, around Newport, in Torfaen, through the western valleys, and the northwest uplands, and through the Usk and Wye valleys.

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

There are large gaps in the mapped distribution, however. As with many species, there are large areas in the north and east of the county with no records at all, or with only older records. This is almost certainly because no-one has visited sites in these areas recently to record dragonflies, rather than because the species is not present: there is much suitable habitat there.

Although quite well-recorded in the south of the county, and not just at the most frequently visited sites, there are still many areas, on the Levels and elsewhere, with older records only: this is almost certainly not the true position and with more widespread recording, it is likely that the species will still be found to be near-ubiquitous there.

Distribution elsewhere

Common Darter is widespread and common in most of Wales, though with some significant gaps in its distribution in some upland areas, particularly in the north. It is found throughout England, though as with many species is scarce or absent in much of the Pennines. It is also found throughout most of Scotland, where the population in the western highlands was previously separated as “Highland Darter”, but is now regarded as just a regional variation within Common Darter. Elsewhere in Europe, it is common and widespread fropm Ireland and Portugal east to Russia, and from the Mediterranean north to southern Scandinavia. It is also found in north Africa, the Canary Islands and Madeira, and in Asia from Turkey east to Japan.