The most common species of Darter that can be found well into November.

Males: dull to bright orange-red, especially on the upper surface of the abdomen.

Females: ochre becoming duller/reddish with age.

Click on an image to enlarge it.

Where to See

Click here for the map
Species GroupDragonflies
Scientific NameSympetrum striolatum
Status & Distribution

Abundant across the British Isles. Less common in upland areas of Scotland and northern England.


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.

Flight PeriodCommon Darter
Adult Identification
  • Length: 38-43mm
  • Pale stripes on legs.
  • Wing spots vary in colour.
  • Black line at the top of the frons (faces) does not extend down the side of the eyes.
  • Males: bright orange-red with yellow panels on side of the thorax.
  • Females: ochre becoming duller/reddish with age.
  • Immature adults: similar to females but paler.
Larval Information

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


Very similar to Ruddy Darter but has longer lateral abdominal spines on segment 9 (S9 lateral spines slightly longer than the length of S9).



Similar Species

Similar appearance to other Darter species, particularly Ruddy Darter

Common Darter can be distinguished by its:

  • pale leg stripes
  • males: yellow patches on the sides of the thorax.