Common darter Sympetrum striolatum

The common darter is a small, narrow-bodied dragonfly which is on the wing from the end of June right through to October, or even November in a warm autumn. Male common darters are bright red while the females and immature adults are golden-brown. There are several similar-looking red darters which can be very difficult to tell apart.


This is a very common dragonfly, breeding in waterways including ponds, ditches, rivers and lakes. As their name suggests, common darters dart forward suddenly from a hovering position to catch their insect prey. They then take their catch to a favoured perch to eat it.


Length: 3.8-4.3cm





When to see

June – November


  • In the late summer, common darters can be found almost everywhere, sat on twigs and fences and angling their wings towards the sun to warm up.

Common name

Common darter

Species name

Sympetrum striolatum

IUCN Red List status

Least concern

When to see in Scotland

June – November

Where to see in Scotland

Scottish Wildlife Trust reserves such as Spey bay or Carstramon wood.

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