Pyrrhosoma nymphula (Large Red Damselfly)

I long to see these characters because they are the first species to emerge signalling the beginning of a new season. Both male and female are handsome, colourfully marked beasties, too.

The females come in three documented colour forms, varying in the amount of black on the dorsal side of the abdomen. Names are assigned to various amounts of black: fulvipes, typica and melanotum, though there are supposedly two forms of melanotum, one with no red colouration at all. It is thought that intermediate forms also exist so maybe variation is actually rather seamless. ❓

In 2021, we found a population of P. nymphula at Chapel Porth in Cornwall which appeared to be particularly rich in form melanotum females and very striking they were, too.

Id Notes

  • very dark pterostigma
  • black legs
  • thorax is black with yellow sides
  • antehumeral stripes begin yellow but change to red with age
  • ♂ – abdomen largely with black bands on S7-9
  • ♀ – extent of the black markings on the red ground varies greatly
  • ♀ – one form exists, f. melanotum, with no red
melanotum female
in tandem ovipositing

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