Dragonfly species in Monmouthshire: Ruddy Darter

Distribution map of Ruddy Darter in Monmouthshire, April 2023
Distribution map of Ruddy Darter in Monmouthshire, April 2023, produced using the DMAP for Windows software written by Alan Morton, www.dmap.co.uk

Ruddy Darter (Sympetrum sanguineum) is a localised dragonfly in the county, much less widespread than Common Darter (S. striolatum).

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

The main population centre for this species is on the Gwent Levels, principally between Uskmouth and Goldcliff and inland to Great Traston Meadows, although there are also recent records for Magor Marsh. In the north of the county it is also present along the River Usk near Abergavenny and was recorded on the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal near Govilon in 2021.

There are no records in the uplands and river valleys in the north and west of the county, and given that these are comparatively well-recorded areas, Ruddy Darter is therefore either absent or very rare there.

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

Elsewhere on the Levels, there are pre-2020 records from a number of other sites, spread from the Rhymney in the west across to Caldicot in the east. It is likely that the species is still present in at least some of these areas, and the lack of recent records is because no-one has visited sites in these areas recently to record dragonflies. A scattering of older records around the edges of Newport may indicate that the population in the south of the county is not just confined to the Levels.

In the north of the county, there are records from near Llanvetherine in 2018 and Dingestow in 1996 and 2010. Ruddy Darter may still be present at these two sites and may be present but undetected at other places away from the Levels, given that few dragonfly recorders visit ponds in the agricultural lowlands. It may also be more widespread in the Abergavenny area, or elsewhere along the Usk, than records suggest. The lack of records along the Wye may reflect Ruddy Darter’s true status there, although recording here tends to be concentrated earlier in the year when riverine species such as Common Clubtail (Gomphus vulgatissimus) are on the wing, so it may be present at some Wye valley locations too.

Distribution elsewhere

Ruddy Darter is a scarce and localised species in Wales, where its main centres of distribution are along the south coast as far west as Pembrokeshire, and in areas close to the English border. In England it is found widely in southern and central areas, but is scarce in the much of the north and in the southwest peninsula, and absent from Scotland. Elsewhere in Europe, it is found from Ireland and northern Iberia east to Russia, north to southern Scandinavia, and south to Italy and Greece; it is more localised elsewhere in Iberia and in north Africa. Its range extends east into Asia, from Turkey to Siberia.