The Red Veined Darter is a dragonfly of the genus Sympetrum that exist all over southern Europe. Since the 1990’s, it has become increasingly present in northwest Europe, including Britain and Ireland.
Interestingly, genetic and behavioral evidence shows that the Red Veined Darter is not closely related to the other members of the Sympetrum genus. If this really is the case, the darter would no longer belong to this genus.
Yet, the Red Veined Darter is similar to other Sympetrum species. A good view with binoculars should give a positive identification, especially with a male who has a red abdomen, which is redder than many other Sympetrum species. The wings have red veins and the wing bases of the hindwings are yellow. It is indeed a beautiful insect.
Red Veined Darter Physical Description
The pterostigma is pale with a border of black veins and the underside of the eye is blue/gray. The female is similar but the abdomen is yellow, not red, and the wings have yellow veins, not red veins as males do.
The legs of both sexes are predominantly black with some yellow. Immature males are like females but often with more red. The male Red Veined Darter resembles Crocothemis erythraea as both are very red dragonflies with yellow bases to the wings, red veins, and pale pterostigma. However, C. erythraea has no black on the legs, a broader body and no black on the head.
Red Veined Darter Distribution
The dragonfly exists in much of central and southern Europe including most Mediterranean islands, in Africa, the Middle East and south-western Asia including India, Sri Lanka, and Mongolia.
In Europe, it is resident in the southern parts but in some years it migrates northward and reaches as far north as Belgium, Sweden, Finland, Poland and northern England.
It is the only dragonfly in the Azores, the Canary Islands, and Madeira. It exists in all sorts of still water but is also present away from water.
Red Veined Darter Reproduction
The dragonfly flies throughout the year around the Mediterranean and in the south of its range. Yet, its main flight period is May to October and it is scarce during the winter months.
Further, it is a territorial species of insect, with the males often sitting on an exposed perch.
After copulation, the pair stays in tandem for egg laying. The pairs remain over open water with the female dipping her abdomen into the water depositing eggs. The eggs and larvae develop rapidly and the red-veined darter, unlike most other species of European dragonflies, has more than one generation a year!