BruceH's picture

Possible Red-veined Darter

Observed: 9th July 2011 By: BruceHBruceH’s reputation in InvertebratesBruceH’s reputation in InvertebratesBruceH’s reputation in InvertebratesBruceH’s reputation in Invertebrates
Poss. red-veined darter - Sympetrum fonscolombii 09-07-2011 09-23-41
Poss. red-veined darter - Sympetrum fonscolombii 09-07-2011 09-23-41 1
Poss. red-veined darter - Sympetrum fonscolombii 09-07-2011 09-23-41 1 2

Near river bank

Species interactions

No interactions present.


RoyW's picture

Definitely a female Violet Dropwing.

Several features show that this is a Dropwing (Trithemis) species rather than a Darter (Sympetrum):

1. There are 9.5 (perhaps 10.5) antenodal cross veins in the forewing, which is within the expected range for Trithemis (9.5-12.5), but too many for Sympetrum (6.5-8.5).
There are also several doubled cells above the radial supplementary vein (typically only a single row of cells here in Sympetrum).
2. The sides of the thorax are marked with a mosaic of dark and light patterns - typical for Trithemis, whereas Sympetrum tend to have much plainer thorax sides.
3. Female Red-veined Darters have an obvious black line along the side of the abdomen (not present in this dragonfly, which can be identified as a female by the shape of the abdomenal appendages, and the lack of the secondary genitalia that would be present on a male).
4. Red-veined Darters have a noticeable yellow stripe on each leg (although this may become less obvious with age).

Compare with this observation:
female Red-veined Darter (these can become duller and less yellow as they age).

I'll post a shot of a another female Violet Dropwing later.

jccurd's picture


By the way, Roy, is the name "Violet Dropwing" accepted nomenclature for Trithemis annulata in the UK in preference to "Violet-marked Darter" (which appears to be the UK term in Dijkstra/Lewington)? I notice both your good self and Monsieur Smallshire use it.

Also, Dijkstra/Lewington doesn't show any side views on a number of species (I'm thinking about your mottled thorax point). Would you recommend a more comprehensive source, at all?

RoyW's picture

Names and books

Although I am sure that I have seen the name 'Violet-marked Darter' used elsewhere, it is does not seem to have been used as the main English name in any of the English language identification guides I have (before Dijkstra the only ones covering southern Europe were Askews "The Dragonflies of Europe" and d'Aquilar et al)'s "A Field Guide to the Dragonflies of Britain, Europe and North Africa" - neither of which gives anything other than the scientific name for this species).
Violet Dropwing is the name used in South African guides, and as Dijkstra choose to use this name in what has become the standard guide to European species, I would expect it to become the Standard name. I would also expect other most other names chosen by Dijkstra to become standard - with the exception of the names of species that already occur in the UK (although I would think even the most 'die hard' fans of British names would have to admit that some UK names are really not appropriate in a Europe wide sense).

As for reccomended books, there is no better guide to European species, and no other guide that illustrates all European species (in any language, as far as I know).
A book that I would reccomend for you - and anyone else who spends a lot of time in France - is "Les Libellules de France, Belgique et Luxembourg" by D Grand & J-P Boudot. Not intended as an ID guide, but contains lots of information, and photographs, of the species recorded in France (written in French).

jccurd's picture

Thanks Roy.

You're quite right, I certainly have thought some of the English names to be a little wacky. "Violet-marked" certainly seems a little odd given that the male of this species is pretty much entirely violet (or is that pink - no, not butch enough).

Just as well that Dijkstra is regarded as standard since I have two copies, a paperback for travel and a hardback for home.

I'll check out that French book and practice (both French and identifying specimens). ;-)

jccurd's picture

Re Previous Id

Trust Roy on this one. In fact, when Roy offers a definite id., trust him anyway.

My less experienced original suggestion of Red-veined Darter on your initial post was off the mark. I thought the abdomen looked wrong but allowed myself to be distracted by the other similarities - apologies.

By the way, you can subsequently add photos to a post rather than posting again.


BruceH's picture

Violet Dropwing

Thank you both so much for this very helpful addition to my limited knowledge base. I would like to get hold of Dijkstra's book - what is its name/ISBN number?

I was initially confused by the only picture I could find (Wikipedia) which looked nothing like my dragonfly.

What is the best on line site for insect ID? (Other than iSpot, that is!)

Finally, how do I add a photo to a post, rather than posting anew?


RoyW's picture


1. Field Guide to the Dragonflies of Britain and Europe, ISBN: 0-953-1399-4-8 (paperback), 0-953-1399-5-6 (hardback).
Sorry, should have given more details before - I tend to forget that not everyone knows the book!

2. For European species try:
- but there are others.

3. If you are logged in and viewing your own observation you should be able to add a photo using the 'edit' tab at the top.

Sorry, haven't fond time to post a photo of m own yet - will do tomorrow.

BruceH's picture

Many thanks

Thank you very much indeed for your help. I have ordered the book.

Most grateful.


RoyW's picture

Another female Violet Dropwing

I've now added my own observation of a female Trithemis annulata on Sicily recently.

This should show the similarity with the one in this observation, and the differences from the Red-veined Darter I linked earlier.

Females of both species are brighter yellow when newly emerged, becoming duller and browner as they age.