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.

Whilst most documentation regards there as being three named female colour forms, I now think that there are four, although one seems to be something of a generic catch-all. The four named colour forms, varying in the amount of black on the dorsal side of the abdomen, are: fulvipes, intermedia, typica and melanotum, though there are supposedly two forms of melanotum, one with no red colouration at all. It is intermedia that seems to be a catch-all for any amount of abdominal black between typica and fulvipes. ❓ Here, I discuss this potentially confusing issue.

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
male
female
female f. melanotum
in tandem ovipositing
exuviae

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