Sympetrum vulgatum (Moustached Darter/Vagrant Darter)

For many years I had wanted to see this species but it had steadfastly eluded me. That was largely because I travelled to the wrong parts of France (west and south) and in the wrong time of year (avoiding the school summer holidays). Finally, in 2022 I bit the bullet and visited the Netherlands where Antoine van der Heijden had kindly offered to fill this gap, along with several others, in my catalogue. I am eternally grateful.

I am curious as to why this species is only seen as a vagrant visitor to the UK. It is prevalent in eastern France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Denmark and southern Scandinavia but shuns the UK. [ I can’t say I blame it πŸ™‚ ] It drops off dramatically in western France, too, so perhaps there is something about western Europe that doesn’t suit it?

It is physically very similar to Sympetrum striolatum (Common Darter), so much so that many of the accursed identification apps [PLEASE use a decent field guide instead] often suggest S. vulgatum even for UK observations. See ID notes for S. striolatum and modify with those below.

ID notes

  • β™‚ & ♀ – black “moustache” line at the side of the frons, variable in weight
  • β™‚ – side panels less distinctly 2-tone, more buff-ish pink;
  • ♀ – very prominent vulvar scale, points down like a thumb.