Large Red Damselfly

Key Sites: Pitsford Reservoir, Titchmarsh Reserve, the Gravel Pits. The Large Red Damselfly is probably overlooked in due to its early appearance and low relative abundance (it is rarely seen in large numbers except at the larger sites such as the gravel pit complexes). It may be seen in a wide range of  habitats ranging from slow flowing rivers (e.g.: The River Ise and Harper's Brook), through smaller ponds such as those found at Brigstock Country Park, to the gravel pit complexes.

Spotting: The Large Red Damselfly is often, nationally, the first species on the wing and is quite distinctive, being the only red damselfly in the County. Despite this, its habit of remaining concealed and only taking short flights make it quite difficult to spot. Records from recent years in Northamptonshire have placed the Hairy Dragonfly first in the emergence list, with the Large Red often second or even third after the Common Blue or Azure, although this may be due to recorders missing its early emergence.

Close examination shows a brilliant almost metallic red to the abdomen, with broad yellow, orange and black antehumeral stripes on the male. The female appears similar to the male, though darker with more black markings and a generally bulkier body. Females go through a number of colour forms, centred around the amount of black markings on the abdomen, from melanotum (large black bands), through intermedia to vulpes, where it is very difficult to distinguish females from males.

County Status: Probably under-recorded. There is a suggestion that numbers are declining in Northamptonshire, and this species needs close watching in the coming years.

Pyrrhosoma nymphula

Male River Ise, June 2006