Female Common Darter
Best viewed large :-)
Female Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) Devon, UK
Canon 300mm F2.8 IS plus 2 x Extender and Canon Extension Tube EF 25 II
AV Mode, Evaluative Metering dialed to -1
Text adapted from – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Darter
This dragonfly of the family Libellulidae is native to Eurasia and one of the most common occurring in a wide variety of water bodies, though with a preference for breeding in still water such as ponds and lakes. Adults are on the wing from June until November and occasionally into December.
Females and Teneral individuals have light yellow thorax and abdomen. Males turn red as they mature. Females darken with age, becoming a dark chocolate brown, and sometimes develop a blue colouration to the bottom of the abdomen. The wings also develop a brown tinge with age. In all cases the legs have a cream or yellow stripe on a black background – this is a diagnostic feature of this species.
This small Dragonfly is seen in a wide variety of habitats, including lakes, ponds, canals and slow-flowing rivers. They are ambush predators, waiting on a prominent perch – such as a leaf or the top of a gate, until prey fly past, whereupon they will fly after it. They are territorial on breeding waters, often attempting to chase much bigger Dragonflies away such as Southern Hawkers. This habit of repeatedly returning to a sunny spot allows you to easily predict where they are going to land, which is why it is one of the easiest dragonflies to photograph.
In suitable hunting areas away from water, however, they are not territorial: large numbers may assemble – groups of several hundred in a single field have been recorded – and lines of insects can be seen along the top of field gates.
Eggs are not laid, but broadcast from the air: the male holds the female in tandem and swings her down and forward over water at a height of around 40cm. At the furthest point of the arc the female releases some of her eggs to fall on the water.
This is one of the most abundant dragonflies in Europe, and populations show no evidence of decline.