The common darter (Sympetrum striolatum) is a striking summer and autumnal species. The males have blood red or fiery orange colourings whereas the females tend to be more yellow or brown. In both sexes however, their main characteristic is their black legs with a contrasting yellow stripe along the length. This dragonfly is a very common and abundant species across much of Europe and can be found away from water sources, as well as close to them.
The species gets its name from its hunting behavouir. The common darter will often be found poised on a plant or post where it will wait until an unsuspecting insect will fly past and the dragonfly will ‘dart’ after it, catching it in flight.
Due to their predatory lifestyle, draongflies are extremely agile and powerful fliers. They are capable of flying backwards, straight up and down, as well as manouerving tight rotations when hunting. This is due to their wings being able to move independetly of each other, unlike many other insects which beat in syncronisation.
Common darter females do not actually lay eggs into the water like many other species of dragonfly do. Instead she sharply flicks her abdonmen which causes the eggs to fall into the water as she flies over and they sink into the sediment below. The egg will hatch into a fericious aquatic nymph which may take up to 5 years to emerge and metamorphasise into an adult common darter.