Species of the Month - August 2016

Black Darter

Sympetrum danae

Sympetrum danae

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.

Sympetrum danae

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.

Sympetrum danae

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.

Sympetrum danae

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.

Sympetrum danae

Another male.  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 for photos.

Sympetrum danae

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.

Please send in
your Black Darter sightings using the form below, or email sightings@lnhg.org.uk with the details if you prefer.  If you are not sure of the identity of your dragonfly, please send a photo to sightings@lnhg.org.uk, or put one on the LNHG Facebook page.

Date of sighting 
Grid reference 
Number seen 
Name of finder 
Your name (if different) 
Email (not needed if I already know it!) 
Any other details, e.g habitat, behaviour    


By filling in this form you agree that the information contained in this form may be collated and disseminated manually or electronically for environmental decision-making, education, research and other public benefit uses in accordance with the LNHG data access policy.  Your email address will not form part of the record and will not be passed on to anyone.

Carl Farmer
LNHG Biological Records Manager

Sightings so far

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 August species:

Aug 2014 - Pale Butterwort
Aug 2013 - Vapourer Moth
Aug 2012 - Forest Bug
Aug 2011 - Grass of Parnassus

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This project is supported by Scottish Natural Heritage

All photos and other content copyright Carl Farmer except where stated.  The 2nd and 5th photos on this page are copyright Jan Hamilton.
Mouse over photos to see credits.