Red Dragonfly

Scientific Classification

Kingdom:   Animalia
Phylum:      Arthropoda
Class:          Insecta
Order:        Odonata
Suborder:   Anisoptera
Family:       Libellulidae
Genus:        Sympetrum
Species:      S. Fonscolombii
Binomial name:Sympetrum fonscolombii

The Red Dragonfly, also known as Red-Veined Darter or Nomad is technically known as Sympetrum Fonscolombii, and belongs to the Sympetrum genus. It is widespread in the southern parts of Europe, and since 1990s, it has also become a common species in the northwestern part of Europe including Ireland and Britain. The behavior and the genetic evidences prove that this species is very much different from the other species of this same genus, and may be replaced from this genus in the future. 

Red Dragonfly


The normal Red Dragonfly attains a length of 4cm, and a wingspan of 6cm. The male Red Dragonfly possesses a red abdomen, brighter than the other species of the Sympetrum genus. Their wings display red veins, and the base of the wings on the hind part are shaded yellow. The Pterostigma of this species is often pale that has a black vein in the border, and the under part of the creature’s eye has a grayish blue shade. The female Red Dragonfly also looks similar to the male, but their wings have yellow veins, and the abdomen shaded in yellow color. The legs of both the male and the female have a black and yellow shade. The juvenile Red Dragonfly looks similar to the female Red Dragonfly but has redder shade in their body.

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Distribution and Habitat

Red Dragonfly
Photo by: David Wilmot

This Red Dragonfly occurs in most parts of southern and central Europe, including the islands of Mediterranean regions, the regions of the Middle East and some regions of southwestern Asia like Sri-Lanka, India, and Mongolia.  It was widely spread in the south of Europe, but now the range has extended towards the northern parts as well. It also occurs in the Madeira and Canary Islands, and supposed to be the only Libellulid (Wiki: the skimmers or perchers and their relatives form the Libellulidae, the largest dragonfly family in the world) present in the Azores.

Like the other dragonflies, it is also found near the water habitat for breeding, but otherwise, being a migrating creature, it is found away from the water. It can be seen flying over and around the sea area.

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The Red Dragonfly prefers to fly throughout the year around the area of the Mediterranean and its southern parts. But the main period of flight is from May to October, which declines by the winter period. This Red Dragonfly is referred as a territorial species, in which the male dragonfly is often seen resting on a perch. After mating, the male and the female dragonfly fly in tandem for laying eggs. As the time approaches for laying eggs, the female dragonfly is seen dipping her abdomen in the water to release the eggs. Like other insects, the dragonflies do not attain the pupa stage, instead they directly transform from the larvae stage to an adult Red Dragonfly.  This species has more than one generation developing in a year, because the egg and the larval development take less than a period of 3 months. The speed of an adult Red Dragonfly may be about 56 km per hour.

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Like other dragonflies, the Red-Veined dragonfly is also an agile and voracious eater. They prefer eating a wide variety of insects. The adult dragonfly feeds on mosquitoes, ants, flies, fleas, butterflies and sometimes even other dragonflies too. The larvae dragonflies are also carnivorous in nature, and feeds on the insects found in the water habitat. It feeds on tadpoles, eggs of the fish, small fish and larvae of mosquitoes. The lower jaw, also termed as labium rests under their body, but shoot rapidly when its eyes fall on a prey. It is armed with hooks that help them to catch their prey.

31 thoughts on “Red Dragonfly”

  1. I live about 20 miles north of San Francisco, CA and I have a red dragonfly in my yard. I’ve never seen one before, and we have a lot of different kinds of dragonflies, which is why I looked it up. Is this an anomaly or have they now arrived in the U.S.?
    I tried taking a couple of pictures of it, but even from just a few feet away, it looks pretty tiny.

    • Wow, I just looked it up for the same reason as you! We live about an hour and a half north of Los Angeles and we saw it yesterday for the first time ever and it was back again today.

    • I’m in Saskatchewan Canada this lady week I have a lot of red dragon flies in my yard never seen one we normally have blue ones

  2. I also looked it up today after seeing one for the first time in my life. I live in central Oklahoma. It was so incredibly unusual for this area.

  3. I live in Victoria, TX between Corpus Christi and Houston. We saw one today, June 17n 2022. Pretty cool. Never seen a red dragonfly here before.

  4. I live in Skagit Valley, 60 miles North of Seattle. My husband and I spotted a Red dragonfly today, June 27. We’ve never seen one before either.

  5. I was fortunate to be in my yard this afternoon and saw a red dragonfly! Red is in bloom right now…. Turks Caps and Crepe Myrtle. I thought how spectacular….a red dragonfly too. And so rare. Austin, Texas (south)

  6. Central Florida here! Just saw a couple of these red dragonflies while taking a walk today. Being a native Florida this was a first for me. A quick Google search brought me here. Wow!

    • Outside of Atlanta here (Loganville)! One red dragonfly amongst 1/2 dozen regulars. Landing on my sons finger while in the pool.

  7. another first sighting of a red dragonfly,(“red veined darter”?) in Bellingham, WA. 20 miles south of the Canadian border. absolutely remarkable. had to Google it. crazy how many sightings seemed to have popped up in the US this summer.

  8. I just saw one for the first time, and I live on the Eastern Shore of Virginia right on the Chesapeake Bay!

  9. Saw one today in my yard. 33 years near Glendale, CA and the first time I saw one. Somehow they must have been recently released in the Los Angeles area. Seems many people have seen one lately. He’s welcome to all the mosquitos he can eat!

  10. I just saw one in my backyard, 30 miles north of San Francisco. I’ve never seen one before so I looked it up here. Any explanation for these unusual sightings in the US?

  11. I’m in Vancouver, WA and I have a red dragon fly hanging around my yard. I’ve see it everyday for about a week. It’s actually pretty decent sized. It lands in the same spot and hangs out next to me.

  12. Saw a red dragonfly this afternoon in my backyard pool area – Dallas, TX area. Like others I have never seen on before and looked it up here. It was so cool. He can have all our mosquitos!


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