Sussex Dragonfly Group

Yellow-winged Darter (Yellow-winged Sympetrum)
Sympetrum flaveolum (Linnaeus, 1758)
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Suborder: Anisoptera
Family: Libellulidae

Yellow-winged Darter
(Yellow-winged Sympetrum)
Sympetrum flaveolum

Suborder: Anisoptera
Family: Libellulidae

This migrant darter species occurs in eruption years. It remains a very rare visitor to Sussex.

Sympetrum flaveolum
1 / 2
female
Photo: David Sadler
Sympetrum flaveolum
2 / 2
male
Photo: David Sadler

National status
The BDS website notes that it is an irregular migrant but may occur in large numbers (1995, 2006). Has bred after major influxes (e.g. Chartley Moss, Staffordshire, in 1996), but colonies do not persist.

Status in Sussex
There have only been three documented records since the 2004 The Dragonflies of Sussex. These were of an adult male at Elms Farm near Pett on 4 August 2005, three adult males at Pagham Harbour on 26 September 2006 and noted as being present at Midhurst in 2008.

Distribution at 1km scale

Sympetrum flaveolum distribution (all)
Sympetrum flaveolum distribution pre 1980
Sympetrum flaveolum distribution 1980 - 1989
Sympetrum flaveolum distribution 1990 - 1999
Sympetrum flaveolum distribution 2000 - 2009
Sympetrum flaveolum distribution 2010 - 2019
Sympetrum flaveolum distribution 2010 on

Historical records
The Yellow-winged Darter was first recorded in Sussex in the Hastings area from 12-15 September 1932 (Dannreuther 1939). There were further sightings at Rye Harbour by N. Moore in 1945, and large numbers followed in 1955, 1968, 1969 and 1973 (see Chelmick 1974, 1979). During the last well-documented influx into Britain, in August 1995, a total of 13 insects was recorded from coastal parts of the county (BDS Sussex Group data), apart from one at Hurston Warren. These records included an amazing 4-5 males and two females by P. Belden in his back garden in Brighton and two separate sightings on the same day (5 August) by T. Wilson - three males at Belle Tout Wood and one male and one female at Sheepcote Valley. The Dragonflies of Sussex (2004) noted that the most recent records were in 2000 with singles appearing at Icklesham and Sheepcote Valley. Although the species has bred in Britain after such mass immigrations, breeding populations are normally short-lived and there is still no proof that this has happened in Sussex.

Flight times
The species has been reported between mid-June and late September in Sussex.

Phenology (adult)

Sympetrum flaveolum phenology (all)
Sympetrum flaveolum phenology pre 1980
Sympetrum flaveolum phenology 1980 - 1989
Sympetrum flaveolum phenology 1990 - 1999
Sympetrum flaveolum phenology 2000 - 2009
Sympetrum flaveolum phenology 2010 - 2019
Sympetrum flaveolum phenology 2010 on

Habitat
Found in marginal vegetation along ditches, ponds and the still backwaters of rivers ( BDS website).

Similar species
See Common Darter for a discussion of identification features of possible confusion darter species (and a photographic comparison). The extensive yellow patches at the base of the wings are a key identification feature.

This migrant darter species occurs in eruption years. It remains a very rare visitor to Sussex.

Sympetrum flaveolum
1 / 2
female
Photo: David Sadler
Sympetrum flaveolum
2 / 2
male
Photo: David Sadler

National status
The BDS website notes that it is an irregular migrant but may occur in large numbers (1995, 2006). Has bred after major influxes (e.g. Chartley Moss, Staffordshire, in 1996), but colonies do not persist.

Status in Sussex
There have only been three documented records since the 2004 The Dragonflies of Sussex. These were of an adult male at Elms Farm near Pett on 4 August 2005, three adult males at Pagham Harbour on 26 September 2006 and noted as being present at Midhurst in 2008.

Distribution at 1km scale

Sympetrum flaveolum distribution (all)
Sympetrum flaveolum distribution bre 1980
Sympetrum flaveolum distribution 1980 - 1989
Sympetrum flaveolum distribution 1990 - 1999
Sympetrum flaveolum distribution 2000 - 2009
Sympetrum flaveolum distribution 2010 - 2019
Sympetrum flaveolum distribution 2020 on

Historical records
The Yellow-winged Darter was first recorded in Sussex in the Hastings area from 12-15 September 1932 (Dannreuther 1939). There were further sightings at Rye Harbour by N. Moore in 1945, and large numbers followed in 1955, 1968, 1969 and 1973 (see Chelmick 1974, 1979). During the last well-documented influx into Britain, in August 1995, a total of 13 insects was recorded from coastal parts of the county (BDS Sussex Group data), apart from one at Hurston Warren. These records included an amazing 4-5 males and two females by P. Belden in his back garden in Brighton and two separate sightings on the same day (5 August) by T. Wilson - three males at Belle Tout Wood and one male and one female at Sheepcote Valley. The Dragonflies of Sussex (2004) noted that the most recent records were in 2000 with singles appearing at Icklesham and Sheepcote Valley. Although the species has bred in Britain after such mass immigrations, breeding populations are normally short-lived and there is still no proof that this has happened in Sussex.

Flight times
The species has been reported between mid-June and late September in Sussex.

Phenology (adult)

Sympetrum flaveolum phenology (all)
Sympetrum flaveolum phenology pre 1980
Sympetrum flaveolum phenology 1980 - 1989
Sympetrum flaveolum phenology 1990 - 1999
Sympetrum flaveolum phenology 2000 - 2009
Sympetrum flaveolum phenology 2010 - 2019
Sympetrum flaveolum phenology 2020 on

Habitat
Found in marginal vegetation along ditches, ponds and the still backwaters of rivers ( BDS website).

Similar species
See Common Darter for a discussion of identification features of possible confusion darter species (and a photographic comparison). The extensive yellow patches at the base of the wings are a key identification feature.