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Common darter

Common darter

This is probably the commonest and most widespread of the dragonflies in the New Forest and will be seen almost anywhere. It is also widespread and common throughout most of the UK except northern England and southern Scotland.

Common darters breed in still waters of any size, and are seen just about anywhere except in dark woodlands. A walk in any open, sunny part of the New Forest will produce this species, often in quite high numbers, at any time from late July through to the end of October. This is the latest species to be seen on the wing and can sometimes be spotted in December; in fact they only die off when cold weather kills the small insects that they feed on. So the milder the winter, the longer you will see common darters.

Photo credit: Simon Curson

ID Tip

ID Tip

The darters are the red dragonflies and there are only two that are at all common in the UK - the common darter and the ruddy darter. These two are similar and the surest way to tell them apart is to get a good look at the legs: the common darter has black legs with a straw coloured streak down the side, but ruddy darters have legs that are all black. If you see a red dragonfly in the Forest it is most likely to be a common darter.

Lead Ranger


'To help ground nesting birds rear their young safely, keep yourself, dogs and ridden horses on the main tracks from the beginning of March to the end of July.'

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