Dragonflies and damselflies

Small red damsels

Small red damselfly

The small red damselfly is a New Forest speciality and the New Forest is its national stronghold. It is found throughout the New Forest, but only in a few other places in UK, such as Dorset, the Surrey heaths, Cornwall and west Wales. It is restricted to these areas because it is very choosy about its habitat.

The small red damselfly needs small, sunny, unshaded, shallow waters, such as acid bogs or pools with lots of plant life. The larvae need high water temperatures to develop and they are not very good at competing with other species. Tiny pools and even wheel ruts on heaths suit them well. To see this species you need to visit the boggier areas of the New Forest such as Latchmere Brook, near Frogham, or Crockford Stream, near Beaulieu. Choose a sunny day with little wind from June to late August.

ID tip - The small red damselfly is one of only two red-coloured damselflies in the UK. The small red has red legs and the large red has black legs. However, the habitat can help identify them – unless you are standing in a boggy area or small pool on the New Forest heaths you will only see large red damselflies.

Although a small and rare species, numbers in the New Forest can be quite high. Up to 500 were reported along a section of disused railway line near Burley in July 1993.

Photo credit: Howard Simmons

  1. Dragonflies and damselflies
  2. Azure damselflies
  3. Beautiful demoiselle
  4. Blue-tailed damselfly
  5. Broad-bodied chasers
  6. Common darter
  7. Emperor dragonfly
  8. Golden-ringed dragonfly
  9. Keeled skimmer
  10. Large red damselfly
  11. Small red damselfly (you are here)
  12. Southern damselfly
  13. Southern hawker


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