Creature of the Week #11: Common Darter

The flight season for the dragonflies, damselflies and chasers is long over in the UK as I write this on a gloomy, windy November afternoon. But sure enough they’ll be back in a few months, buzzing around our rivers, ponds and wetlands as they have been for over 300 million years. Among them is the focus of this week’s creature, the Common Darter Sympetrum striolatum.

As well as being stunningly beautiful in it’s scarlet livery, this species is a photographer’s favourite due to it’s ambush techniques of catching prey. This particular individual was sitting spread out on a dead tree at my local water meadows, and so fixed on it’s task that it wasn’t bothered much by me and my macro lens. If any small, flying insect is to appear in range, the darter shoots out like a spring, chases, catches, and eats: And then it returns neatly to the same perch, to wait for another very unlucky fly.

To the insect world, the term ‘dragonfly’ cannot be more appropriate when attributed to these supreme predators.


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