This small heathland and moorland species is the only black dragonfly (males) that can be found in the UK.

Mature male: black with some yellow markings.

Females: yellow-ochre with black markings.



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Species GroupDragonflies
Scientific NameSympetrum danae
Status & Distribution

Most commonly found in northern and western parts of Britain. It has seen a general and significant decline over the past 50 years, particularly in England.


A species of peat moss and moorland, breeding in acidic ponds, bog pools and drainage ditches.

Flight PeriodBlack Darter
Adult Identification
  • Length: 29-34mm
  • Black legs.
  • Black pterostigma (wing spots).
  • Male: black body with some yellow marking.
  • Females: yellow-ochre with black markings; a dark triangle marking on the back of the thorax.
  • Immature adults: similar colour to females.
Larval Information

Darters have a squat, spider-like body-shape and a head that tapers back to the thorax.

Black Darter are the smallest Darter larvae: 13-16mm.

  • Climate change; increasing temperatures and erratic rainfall threaten the species bog pool habitat.
  • Ditch installation and drainage.
  • Peat cutting.
  • Forestation of the uplands.


Similar Species

Mature males are the only black dragonflies in the UK so are unmistakable.

Females and immature males resemble other darters. They can be separated by their:

  • black pterostigma (wing spots).
  • black panels on the sides of the body.
  • dark triangle on the top of the thorax.