Slim scarlet-darter (Crocothemis sanguinolenta)
|Also known as:||little scarlet, small scarlet|
Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).
The slim scarlet-darter (Crocothemis sanguinolenta) is a medium-sized dragonfly with dazzling scarlet colouration and a long, slender body (2). Its eyes are large and positioned close together on top of the head (3). The slim scarlet-darter has two pairs of membranous wings with visible veins running through them and characteristic dark spots near the tip of the wing (4).
The slim scarlet-darter often has a small patch of yellow at the base of the wings, and this feature is variable in size between populations, with some scientists recognising two subspecies: Crocothemis sanguinolentaarabica and Crocothemis sanguinolenta sanguinolenta (5). Like other dragonflies, the slim scarlet-darter holds its wings flat and at 90 degrees to the body (3).
The slim scarlet-darter occurs in warm temperate climates, and is widespread in southern Asia, the Middle East and Africa (1).
The slim scarlet-darter inhabits forests and wetlands and is found in areas where there are permanent freshwater streams, creeks, pools and rivers as well as seasonal or intermittent rivers and streams (1).
There is little specific information available on the biology of the slim scarlet-darter but its life history and behaviour are likely to be similar to those of other dragonflies and damselflies.
Adult dragonflies typically hold a small territory, which is vigorously defended during breeding. Aggression can be increased when there is an imbalance between the numbers of each sex (6). During mating, the male dragonfly holds the female by the head with a pair of claspers on the end of the abdomen. The male may make an attempt to remove any sperm stored by the female from previous mates, and will often try to guard the female from other males during egg laying, to ensure that the eggs are fertilised by his sperm (6).
A dragonfly generally lays its eggs near or in water, and the eggs hatch into aquatic larvae, known as nymphs. Dragonfly nymphs go through several moults before the final moult into the adult form. When the nymph is ready to emerge as an adult, it finds a safe spot hidden from potential predators, as it is very vulnerable at this stage. Once the adult has emerged, it pumps fluid into the veins in the wings to expand them ready for flight. The larval stage of a dragonfly may last for many months, whereas the adult may only live for a matter of weeks (6).
Both adult and larval dragonflies are opportunistic predators, feeding on a variety of prey.
There are currently no known threats to the slim scarlet-darter and this species is abundant in the wild (1).
There are no specific conservation plans currently in place for the slim scarlet-darter as it is not considered endangered or at risk (1).
More information on dragonfly and damselfly conservation:
Moore, N.W. (1997) Dragonflies: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN/SSC Odonata Specialist Group, IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. Available at:
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- Fertilisation: the fusion of gametes (male and female reproductive cells) to produce an embryo, which grows into a new individual.
- Larval: of the stage in an animal’s lifecycle after it hatches from the egg. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce.
- Moult: in insects, a stage of growth whereby the hard outer layer of the body (the exoskeleton) is shed and the body becomes larger.
- Nymph: stage of insect development, similar in appearance to the adult but sexually immature and without wings. The adult form is reached via a series of moults, and the wings develop externally as the nymph grows.
- Subspecies: a population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.
- Territory: an area occupied and defended by an animal, a pair of animals or a group.
IUCN Red List (May, 2009)
- Borror, D., Triplehorn, C. and Johnston, N. (1989) An Introduction to the Study of Insects. Sixth Edition. Saunders College Publishing, Florida.
- Wootton, A. (1993) Insects of the World. Blandford Press, London.
- Gillott, C. (1980) Entomology. Plenem Press, London.
- Dijkstra, K-D.B. and Dingemanse, N.J. (2000) New records of Crocothemis sanguinolenta (Burmeister, 1839) from Israel, with a critical note on the subspecies arabica Schneider, 1982. International Journal of Odonatology, 3(2): 169-171.
- Brooks, S. (2002) Dragonflies. The Natural History Museum, London.