Red chaser (Libellula pontica)

Synonyms: Libellula fulva pontica
KingdomAnimalia
PhylumArthropoda
ClassInsecta
OrderOdonata
FamilyLibellulidae
GenusLibellula (1)
SizeLength: 39 - 42 mm (2)
Length of abdomen: 22 - 26 mm (2)
Hindwing: 29 - 32 mm (2)

Classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1).

Characteristic of the Libellulidae family, this red chaser has a short, broad abdomen and its whole body is markedly shorter than its wingspan (2) (3). While the male’s abdomen is a brick red, the female’s is a pale chestnut brown, both possessing a dark line running down the centre. Females also have chestnut-brown colouring at the leading edge of their wings. Both male and female red chasers have a small dark brown area at the base of their hindwings (4).

Sparsely distributed in Turkey, Armenia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Syria and Kyrgyzstan (1).

Red chasers are primarily found around springs and near slow-flowing waters, particularly in swamps, where there are extensive areas of reeds or large rushes (1) (4).

Odonata species start their life as aquatic larvae, passing through a series of developmental stages or ‘stadia’ and undergoing several moults as they grow. Before the final moult (emergence), metamorphosis occurs in which the larvae transform into the adult form. Adults complete their metamorphosis after emergence and undergo a pre-reproductive phase known as the maturation period, when individuals normally develop their full adult colour (5). Virtually nothing has been published about the red chaser’s social, reproductive or feeding behaviour, but certain details can be inferred from what is known about its western counterpart, Libellula fulva. Eggs should hatch two to seven weeks after deposition and the larval period should extend over two years, passing through 11 to 16 stadia. The adult flight period of the red chaser in Turkey lasts from early May to June, sometimes to the beginning of July, during which time they must mate (2).

Red chaser males defend territories with flights undertaken from their favourite prominent perches, but they are less aggressive than many other chaser species. Females begin to lay eggs in the water immediately after copulation, unaccompanied by the male.

Odonata feed on flying insects and are often generalised, opportunistic feeders, sometimes congregating around abundant prey sources such as swarms of other insects (5).

Small, isolated populations of this species are scattered sparsely across its expansive range, leaving them vulnerable to local extinctions. Unfortunately, suitable habitats are rare, and where they exist, they often coincide with agricultural areas and are therefore threatened with the possibility of draining, eutrophication and pollution (1).

There are currently no conservation measures targeting this species.

Authenticated (18/12/06) by Jean-Pierre Boudot, CNRS, Université Henri Poincaré Nancy I, France.

  1. IUCN Red List (September, 2007)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. Dijkstra, K.D.B. and Lewington, R. (2006) Field Guide to the Dragonflies of Britain and Europe. British Wildlife Publishing, Gillingham.
  3. Brisbane Insects and Spiders (September, 2007)
    http://www.geocities.com/brisbane_dragons/LIBELLULIDAE.htm
  4. Boudot, J.P. (2008) Pers. comm.
  5. O’Toole, C. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Insects and Their Allies. Oxford University Press, Oxford.