Description male female larva Irish distribution

Pyrrhosoma nymphula

Pyrrhosoma nymphula (Sulzer, 1776)


Common name: Large Red Damselfly

Preferred environment: streams, small pools and lakes; generally prefers acid sites often with little or no open water.

Flight period: mid April to end of September according to locality. May to mid August in Ireland.

Adult habitat and habits: immature adults mature away from breeding sites for 2 weeks. Males defend perch near breeding site against rival males and attempting to gain females. Mating occurs in vegetation.

Oviposition site and behaviour: females oviposit in tandem.

Larval habitat and habits: eggs hatch 2-3 weeks after laying. Development takes 2 years, with final instar larvae in diapause over second winter. Larvae are bottom dwellers amongst plant debris and vegetation. Diet consists of insect larvae, protozoa, rotifers and micro-crustaceans, with later instars taking more insect larvae. Larvae are territorial.

Range: Europe except extreme south of Italy and Greece, and northern half of Fennoscandia, and Asia. Throughout Ireland.

Determination of adults: species is keyed and male abdominal appendages are figured in Askew (1988); mature adults are illustrated in colour in Askew (1988) and Brooks (1997).

Determination of larvae: keys to mature larvae in Askew (1988) and Brooks (1997). Photograph of mature larva in Brooks (1997).


Nelson, B., Thompson, R. & Morrow, C., 2000 (May 2). [In] DragonflyIreland http://www.ulstermuseum.org.uk/dragonflyireland/


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