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Large red damselfly


Pyrrhosoma nymphula

Widespread in the UK, this species has a red abdomen with dark markings towards the end. Males tend to be more vibrant. It is often the first damselfly to be seen in spring.

The male is aggressive, fighting off other males entering his territory. Damselflies rest with their wings folded lengthways along their body (unlike dragonflies, which rest with wings outspread).

During mating the male clasps the female by her neck while she bends her body around to his reproductive organs – the shape that this creates is called a mating wheel. The pair fly together over the water and eggs are laid within a suitable plant, just below the surface.

The eggs hatch and the larvae, called nymphs, live in the water. Nymphs eventually climb out of the water up a suitable stem to emerge from their split skins as damselflies.

What does it eat?

Small insects, snatched from vegetation.

When will I see it?

Between April and September.

Where will I see it?

Resting on vegetation near water. Along slow-flowing rivers, lakes, ponds, bogs and canals.

Vital statistics

Length: Up to 36mm
Wingspan: Up to 48mm


Not seen in JanuaryNot seen in FebruaryNot seen in MarchSeen in AprilSeen in MaySeen in JuneSeen in JulySeen in AugustSeen in SeptemberNot seen in OctoberNot seen in NovemberNot seen in December

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