Common Darter

Sympetrum striolatum

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Length: 38-43mm

Flight Period: July to October (sometimes in May and December)

A summer and autumn species, this dragonfly can be found well into November and may be one of the last on the wing in the UK. The thorax in both sexes is brown above with poorly defined antehumeral stripes and yellow panels on the sides. The eyes are brown above and yellow below. The legs are black with a diagnostic yellow stripe along their length.

Male: becomes a bright orange-red with maturity with small black spots on S8 and S9.

Female: pale, yellowish-brown abdomen often developing red markings along the segment boundaries and medial line as they age.


Ponds and other still, stagnant or even brackish waters are used and they are frequently found at small garden ponds. They are frequently found away from water, resting on the tops of plants in woodland rides.

Status & Distribution

Abundant in England, Wales and Ireland. Less common in Scotland.

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Similar species

The various resident and migrant species of Darter in the UK are easily confused, the females being particularly difficult to tell apart. The yellow stripe on the legs and the orange-red (rather than blood-red) appearence of the mature male help to distinguish it from the Ruddy Darter