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Large red damselfly - Pyrrhosoma nymphula
Large red damselfly - Pyrrhosoma nymphula

Large red damselfly
The large red damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) is a species in the order true dragonflies (Odonata), the suborder damselflies (Zygoptera), the superfamily Coenagrionoidea, the family narrow-winged damselflies or pond damselflies (Coenagrionidae) and the genus Pyrrhosoma. The large red damselfly is common in most of Europe however it is absent in most of Scandinavia and in some parts of southern Europe. In Germany, it is one of the most common dragonfly species.
Pyrrhosoma nymphula
Pyrrhosoma nymphula
Adult Pyrrhosoma nymphula reach body lengths of 35 - 45 mm. Their bodies are bright red in colour. They have compound eyes. In the males, the upper part of the eyes is red in colour, while the lower part is whitish to yellow. In the females the eye colouration is paler. The thorax has black markings on its upper surface and on the sides. Young specimens of both sexes have yellow to bright red stripes on the surface of the middle segment of the thorax (mesothorax). In some females these stripes are paler - reddish-orange to yellow - and they can darken with age. The underside of the thorax is yellowish to whitish in both sexes.
Head and Thorax of the Large red damselfly
Head and Thorax of the Large red damselfly
Both males and females have red and black markings on the abdomen. In the females these markings can be divided into three basic patterns according to their shape and location.

In type 1, which is themost common, the 2nd - 6th segments are red. A black line runs along the centre of these segments, which widens into a patch at the end of each of them. This black line is followed by a thin, yellow ring. All remaining segments are entirely black.

Type 2 has a similar pattern. However, the black markings on the 2nd - 6th segments are less pronounced.

Type 3, however, only has a slight red colouration on the sides of the 2nd – 6th segments. The rest of the abdomen has a black, metallic sheen.
Males only ever have distinct black markings at the top of the 7th - 9th segments.
The large red damselfly has wing spans of 40 - 70 mm. Their pterostigma and the markings on their legs are solid black. Due to their external appearance, the large red damselfly can be confused with the small red damselfly (Ceriagrion tenellum). The latter, however, has red legs. Confusion with Pyrrhosoma elisabethae is also possible. Here differentiation is possible on the basis of the abdominal appandixes.
The large red damselfly is non endangered but is nonetheless protected like all dragonflies. It is found in the lowlands and in the mountains and prefers habitats with standing or slow flowing waters such as streams, ditches, marshes, and lakes or ponds with dense marginal vegetation where it can hide. The large red damselfly appears from April to August and is one of the earliest species of dragonflies which can be observed in the course of the year. It is diurnal and feeds on insects.
Mating takes place in late spring or early summer in sunny weather. The fertilized females lay their eggs from the air while clinging to the male (tandem flight). The eggs are attached to plant parts located under the surface of the water.
The larvae develop under water and overwinter there in their final stage of development. During the first three weeks after hatching from their eggs they leave the place where they were born and explore the surroundings of the water’s edges. They then go back into the water. In the following spring they finally leave the water via outstanding plant stems. They free themselves from their larval casing ( exuvia) while hanging from the plant and after their wings have dried, fly away as young dragonflies.

Pyrrhosoma nymphula
Common namesLarge Red Damselfly, Spring Redtail, Large Red Damsel
German namesFrühe Adonislibelle, Frühe Adonisjungfer, Adonislibelle
Dutch namesVuurjuffer
Danish namesRød Vandnymfe
Finnish namesPunatytönkorento
Swedish namesRöd flickslända
AuthorSulzer, 1776
Eco zoneFreshwater

South Asia (India), Far East (Southeast Asia (Philippines))
North Europe (British Isles (United Kingdom (Great Britain (England (English Midlands (East Midlands (Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Northamptonshire)), North England (Northwest England (Cheshire))))), Ireland), Germany (West Germany (North Rhine-Westphalia)), Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, Denmark), Fennoscandia (Finland), Baltic region (Baltic States (Estonia))), West Europe (Austria, France (South France (Corsica)), Switzerland, Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg), Liechtenstein), South Europe (Italy (Italy Islands (Sicily), North Italy, South Italy), Iberian Peninsula (Spain, Portugal)), Central Europe (Poland, Czech Republic (Moravia, Bohemia)), Southeast Europe (Greece), East Europe (Belarus)

Distribution by Synonymus:
Moroagrion danielli   Philippines
CountriesAustria, Belarus, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom
Links and ReferencesPyrrhosoma nymphula in
Pyrrhosoma nymphula in
Pyrrhosoma nymphula in Wikipedia (English)

Description of images / photos
Photography with Cameras
Nikon D3x, Nikon D300, Canon 50D
Image editing with Photoshop
1. Large red damselfly - Pyrrhosoma nymphula
2. Pyrrhosoma nymphula
3. Head and Thorax of the Large red damselfly
Quick search: Red - Damselfly - Legs - Dragonfly - Hawker - Black
Segments - Pyrrhosoma - Markings - Water - Females - Yellow - Thorax - Dragonflies
Sources, links and more informations
Large Red Damselfly in Wikipedia
Pyrrhosoma in species.wikimedia
Insects, True insects
Winged insects
Ancient winged insects
Dragonflies, Damselflies, Demoiselles, Dragonflies and Damselflies
Pond damselflies, Narrow-winged damselflies, Pond Damsels
Pyrrhosoma nymphula
Large Red Damselfly, Spring Redtail, Large Red Damsel
AuthorSulzer, 1776
Agrion amazon
Agrion sanguinea
Agrion sanguineum
Libellula minius
Libellula nymphula
Moroagrion danielli
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Pyrrhosoma interposita
Pyrrhosoma minium
Pyrrhosoma nymphula interpositum
Pyrrhosoma sanguineum
Pyrrhosoma nymphula elisabethae
Pyrrhosoma nymphula nymphula
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