All featured images were taken by and remain the property of Chris Brooks

The narrative was kindly written
 and supplied by
Mr Ken Crick

Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum)

A Species Narrative by Ken Crick

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Welcome to my new style narrative, the content of which has been kindly written and supplied by Ken Crick. The narrative is intended to give an insight into the life cycle and characteristics of the featured species.

Size: - Approximate Length 37m - Wing Span 57mm
 
Male: - The colouration of the males abdomen can be some what variable (see above), from light red to an orange tinged with red and straw. The cooler the ambient air temperature the more likely the abdomen is to appear dull orange. The legs of both sexes are black with a yellow band along their length. The thorax upper surface is brown with some individuals exhibiting poorly defined antehumeral stripes. There are two large blue / yellow patches on each side of the thorax. Quite close observation is required to note the black line running in front of and between the eyes. For this species the line terminates at the eye and does not continue downwards as in other similar Sympetrum.

Female: - The female (see below) has a brown thorax with yellow side patches, straw coloured abdomen with black side darts. As with the male diffuse antehumeral stripes may be present but the obvious diagnostic feature is the yellow longitudinal line on the outer surface of the black legs. 

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Status: - Common and widespread except in parts of northern England and most of Scotland.

Habitat: - Catholic in its tastes, it makes use of a wide range of still water habitats including ponds, lakes, flooded mineral extraction pits, bog pools, canals and calm waters of slow flowing rivers and streams.

Flight period: - Mid June to the end of October.

General: - Males guard a localized territory from a high perch to which they return after each rush forth to drive off intruders. Both sexes frequently sun bathe in sheltered spots either on the ground or on vertical or horizontal surfaces such as fence posts and rails.

Copulation takes place while perched and in a relatively exposed position. The activity takes approximately 10 minutes and with care is readily photographed. The activity of laying eggs takes place in tandem and in flight. The male executes a downward movement of the abdomen lowering the female so her ovipositor makes contact with the water thus releasing the eggs. This activity is repeated many times. Females will egg lay alone and appear to exercise more discretion over suitable sites than when in tandem.

The narrative was kindly written and supplied by Ken Crick

All of the features images were taken by and remain the property of Chris Brooks

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