British Insects: the Odonata


L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz

Sympetrum flaveolum (Linnaeus, 1758)

Yellow-winged Darter Dragonfly.

Adults. Adults about 31–34–37 mm long (the sexes similar in length). Average wingspan 55 mm; hindwings 24–29 mm long.

The eyes dorsally narrowly apposed to dorsally broadly contiguous; red.

Legs black and yellow (with a yellowish line along the tibiae and the hind femora). Thoracic antehumeral stripes absent. The wings spread more or less horizontally in repose; dissimilar in shape and venation; sessile; suffused with colour at their bases only, or suffused with colour basally and (in the forewings only) in a patch near the cubital point (in some females). The tinting amber (or saffron). The inner wing venation blackish. Discoidal cell divided longitudinally into a conspicuous triangle and supra-triangle. Antenodal veins in the forewings 7–9 (fewer in the hindwings). Pterostigma elongated but only about about twice as long as wide to well over twice but no more than five times as long as wide; red (with black edging, in both sexes).

Abdomen linear from a conspicuously swollen base, or linear from a conspicuously swollen base to swollen both basally and distally and markedly constricted in between (the basal swelling and constriction not very marked); 22–26 mm long; predominantly red (in the male), or green, or yellow (olive-yellow, in the female); plain (apart from median black dashes on segments 8 and 9 of both sexes); without mid-dorsal spots. The male abdomen without auricles on segment 2; with a single inferior anal appendage.

Nymphs. The nymphs stout, the body expanded in the middle; when mature, 14–18 mm long (usually about 16.5 mm).

The head in dorsal view markedly narrowing from immediately behind the eyes. The postocular lobes curving sharply to the back of the head from some distance behind the eyes. The antennae 7 segmented. The mask having the prementum hollowed dorsally. The prementum bearing (20–)26–28(–30) major setae (usually 13+13 to 14+14). The body of the labial palps bearing 11 major setae. Legs longer than the abdomen.

The abdomen terminating in five short spine-like appendages. The cerci no more than hald the length of the paraprocts. The abdomen with mid-dorsal spines. The mid-dorsal abdominal spines prominent on segments 6 to 8 only. The gizzard with 4–8 folds.

Distribution. Northern England, English Midlands, East Anglia, Wales, southeast England, southwest England, and central southern England (recent records mostly from the southeast of England). Adults on the wing early July to late September (generally in best mature condition late July and August).

Classification. Anisoptera; family Libellulidae.

Illustrations. • Sympetrum flaveolum and S. fonscolombei (from Lucas).

To view the illustrations with detailed captions, go to the interactive key. This also offers full and partial descriptions, diagnostic descriptions, differences and similarities between taxa, lists of taxa exhibiting or lacking specified attributes, and distributions of character states within any set of taxa.

Cite this publication as: ‘Watson, L., and Dallwitz, M.J. 2003 onwards. British insects: Dragonglies and Damselflies (Odonata). Version: 1st January 2012.’.