The Ruddy Darter attains a wingspan of up to 6 cm. The head, thorax and abdomen of the male are vivid red, while the female is slightly smaller, and is a golden-yellow colour with black markings. The abdomen widens for the final third of its length and shows a marked pinched section where it joins the thorax.
The all-black legs of the Ruddy Darter distinguish it from the otherwise very similar Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) and Vagrant Darter (Sympetrum vulgatum), both of which show yellow stripes on their legs.
The Ruddy Darter can be found between the months of July and November. Mating takes place on the wing, with the coupled pair performing a dipping flight over the water. The female jettisons her fertilised eggs at the water surface by alternating movements of the abdomen. The male will hover nearby during this period and protect the female by driving off any approaching males.The larvae spend the year beneath the water surface before emerging and pupating into adults.
Range and HabitatEdit
The Ruddy Darter is to be found in temperate regions throughout Europe as far west as Siberia and as far south as the northern Sahara. Its conservation status is regarded as secure, and indeed numbers seem to be increasing in some locations such as central England. It tends to prefer quiet bodies of water that feature semiaquatic vegetation such as rushes and reeds.