- Family: Libellulidae
- Scientific name: Sympetrum sinaiticum Dumont, 1977
- English common name: Desert Darter
- Spanish common name: Libélula Flecha Roja
The relatively small Desert Darter – Sympetrum sinaiticum – Libélula Flecha Roja is comparatively scarce in Spain, but in recent years it has started to become more frequently encountered. This may be as a result of a greater awareness of the species or perhaps as a result of climate change. It is a species of arid regions and individuals are frequently found a long way from water. In this respect the species is unusual amongst the Iberian dragonfly fauna in that adults seem to delay reproductive behaviour for perhaps two months or so before returning to water to breed.
- Total length: 34 to 37mm
- Hind Wing length: 24 to 29mm
- Altitude: Sea level to 1500m+
- Flight period in Iberia: early June to early November
- Habitat: Rivers, ponds & man made water bodies.
- Distribution: North Africa, the Middle East, southern & eastern Spain.
The species can be difficult to pick out in a large group of mixed darters but individually they are distinctive. The male’s red abdomen has an absence of dark central markings on the upper surface, a feature it shares with the Southern Darter – Sympetrum meridionale, however when viewed from the side both the male & female, (whose abdomen is a sandy yellow colour), have black markings high on the sides of segments 2 & 3 of the abdomen which are absent from the Southern Darter.
The Desert Darter may have extensive red veins in the wings, and blue grey undersides to the eyes leading to confusion with the Red-veined Darter – Sympetrum fonscolombei however careful examination of the abdomen as outlined above will help separate the two species in the field.
Superficially similar to any other red darter, but more specifically the Red-veined Darter – Sympetrum fonscolombei, Moustached Darter – Sympetrum vulgatum and the Southern Darter – Sympetrum meridionale.
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