Species of the Month - August 2016
The Black Darter
is on the wing from mid-July to mid-October, making it one of the latest
dragonflies of the season. It frequents bog pools and peaty
lochans. The male is unmistakable, it is our only black
dragonfly. The various species of Emerald dragonfly can look black
if not well seen, but they are clearly green or metallic blue if you get
a good view in good light.
Female Black Darters are
yellow, with black underneath the abdomen extending up the sides.
They can be confused with female Highland Darters which are similarly
coloured. The best distinguishing feature is the dark inverted
triangle on the thorax. All Black Darters have this, apart from
mature males whose thorax is all black. The Highland Darter never
has this mark.
This is an immature male,
coloured like a female but easily told as a male by the shape of the
abdomen, which narrows in the middle and broadens out again towards the
end. The black triangle on the thorax is clearly visible here.
This is an over-mature
female, with the yellow having darkened to brown. If there was any
doubt, the straight-sided abdomen proves it to be a female, and the dark
triangle on the thorax shows it to be a Black Darter.
Both sexes perch on vegetation and also like to bask on rocks.
They don't go in for long flights without resting, like some species, so
if they are present you should get good views and opportunities
A female basking in the sun. The Black Darter is a small dragonfly, shorter than most damselflies, but its abdomen is much wider than that of a damselfly, and like all dragonflies it spreads out its wings when at rest.
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Aug 4: Male seen by Rob Lightfoot at his garden wildlife pond, Glen Euchar
Note you can still send in
records for past species of the month. Here are the previous