Large Red Damselfly - Western Isles - Hebrides Insects

Large Red Damselfy - Western Isles Insect Sightings

Large Red Damselfly - Pyrrhosoma nymphula
This lovely bright red damselfly - seen all over the Western Isles.

This beautiful damselfly is one of the first dragonflies to show its face throughout Scotland and the UK.

Red with extensive black markings and black legs, and some bronze on the abdomen.

The large red damselfly has broad red or yellow antehumeral stripes and black legs. It has a brilliant almost metallic red to the abdomen, with broad yellow, orange and black antehumeral stripes on the male.

Female Large Red Damselfly
The female may be in 3 colour forms with varying amounts of black on her abdomen - usually .she is darker with more black markings and a generally bulkier body. Females look similar to the males but, also have a narrow, patterned black line running down the centre of the abdomen.

Damselflies Rest With Wings Folded
Damselflies rest with their wings folded lengthways along their body (unlike dragonflies, which rest with wings outspread). In young specimens the red colouration is replaced by yellow.

An adult has a wingspan of 44mm. Approximate overall length - 36mm.

Behaviour or THe Large Red Damselflies

The males are often aggressive and will see off intruders. This damselfly has a habit of remaining concealed and only taking short flights. Damselflies eat small insects and small aquatic invertebrates. The Large Red Damselfly is not very active and prefers to spend most of its time flying around its territory and settling on vegetation around ponds - streams and and slow moving water

This Damselfly can be found on many different types of water-body from small ponds and lodges to ditches, canals and rivers and streams. The Large Red Damselfly chooses small standing water, preferably with a rich vegetation, both in the water as on the waterfront.

During mating the male clasps the female by her neck while she bends her body around to his reproductive organs – the shape is often called a mating wheel. The pair fly together over the water. Their eggs are laid within a suitable plant, just below the surface and hatch. The aquatic larvae take two years to complete development. The larvae - called nymphs live in the water. Metamorphosis then occurs and the adult insect expands and dries its wings before flying off. There is no pupal stage in the development of dragonflies and damselflies. Nymphs eventually climb out of the water - climbing up a stem to emerge from their split skins as damselflies.

How to Distinguish a Dragonfly from a Damselfly
I wondered what makes this insect a damselfly as opposed to a dragonfly and have ascertained that dragonflies are distinguished from Damselflies by their more robust appearance, and powerful flight. Dragonflies wings are held at right angles to the body when at rest and the eyes in most species of dragonflies actually touch Damselflies are smaller in size than dragonflies and usually have a weaker and briefer flight. When resting their wings are usually held together over their back. Damselflies eyes are separated instead of touching as in the dragonflies.

Mating Dragonflies
If you see the shape of the two bodies looking like a a heart or a wheel - then these are two dragonflies mating. The male grabs the female just behind the head. The female holds on to the male just behind the body. The male is then impregnating her. This is actually very strange as the male's sex organs are actually at the end of his tail. So if the end of the females body is just behind his own body and not near the end of his tail, how does he do it? After producing his sperm, he transports it to a special save-keeping organ near the front of the tail. And that's exactly where the female grabs him! When she is depositing her eggs the males of many species hold their grip on the female, to prevent other males from breaking in and taking over

Dragonflies are really beautiful insects which capture the essence of summer. They act out for you their intricate aerobatics and its a pleasure to watch their behaviour.


How fast do dragonflies fly? How long does a dragonfly live? Related to the Fly or not? What does a dragonfly eat? Remarkable eyesight of a dragonfly?

Click Here To read Dragonfly & Damselflies Facts and View Other Western Isles Species

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