Large red damselfly

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Large red damselfly
Large red damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) male Dry Sandford.jpg
Male, Dry Sandford Pit, Oxfordshire
Large red damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) female form typica.jpg
Immature female, form typica, Cumnor Hill, Oxford
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Odonata
Suborder: Zygoptera
Family: Coenagrionidae
Genus: Pyrrhosoma
Species: P. nymphula
Binomial name
Pyrrhosoma nymphula
(Sulzer, 1776)

The large red damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) is mainly a European damselfly, with some populations in Northern Africa and Western Asia.[1]


It inhabits ponds and dikes, and occasionally slow-moving rivers.


Females occur in three colour forms, but all have yellow bands around the abdominal segments. The form typica has more black on its abdominal segments than the form 'fulvipes', particularly segment 6. Immatures have lighter eyes and have yellow stripes on the thorax, not red.

They can easily be confused with small red damselflies, but the latter has orange legs, while the large red damselfly has black legs. In Greece and Albania a closely related species occurs, the Greek red damsel (Pyrrhosoma elisabethae). They look very much the same, the females only having a slightly different pronotum with deep folds in the hind margin. The males differ in their lower appendages, which are longer than the upper ones, while the black hook on the lower appendages is half as long as in the large red damselfly. The appendages of the large red damselfly can be seen in the gallery below.


One of the most common damselflies, the large red damselfly is often the first damselfly to emerge, usually in April or May.