Sympetrum danae | Black Darter | Sciobaire Dubh



Conservation status

Ireland: Least Concern

EU: Least Concern

There is no quantified evidence of decline across the whole island to justify a threat category, but the map in Nelson & Thompson (2004) does suggest a decline in parts of Northern Ireland.

Native status


Species Biology


Length: 3.2cm 

Wingspan: 4.6cm 

The smallest species of Darter in Ireland. Both sexes have clear wings with a black wing spot. Mature males are all black except for some yellow marking on the abdomen and yellow stripes on the thorax, and are the only black dragonfly in Ireland. They also have bicoloured eyes, black on top and olive below.

Females look quite similar to immature males, they are both predominantly yellow-brown although the immature male has a waisted abdomen and the mature female has dark yellow patches at the base of the wings and bicoloured eyes (reddish-brown on top and olive below). Legs are black in both sexes.

Adult habitat & habits

“Darting” and “skittish” flight, go from hovering to a sudden burst of movement to catch prey. Males are not territorial. Tend to perch in the sun a lot. 


Mainly lowland, raised bogs. Breeds in acidic, low-nutrient bog pools. Low tolerance for poor quality water and shade. The female deposits her eggs over submerged bog moss or floating plant debris.

Flight period

June to October (occasionally November)


World distribution(GBIF)

Irish distribution

Most abundant all along the west and the midlands. Sparse in the south east due to lack of habitat.

Temporal change

Records submitted to Data Centre in 2024

The following map is interactive. If you would prefer to view it full screen then click here.