29 May 2013

Carmine Darter – Dhahran Hills

Whilst birding the ‘patch’ yesterday I found a larger dragonfly than the common Purple Darter. This insect was a bright red colour and perched regularly on a small tamarisk shrub where I managed to get a decent photograph of it at one stage when it perched in some sunlight briefly. The Carmine Darter Crocothemis erythraea is a common and numerous dragonfly throughout the Middle East, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Oman. The adult male has a bright orange red to carmine red, widened abdomen, and small yellowish-amber patches at the bases of the hind wings. Pterostigma are yellow. The male is carmine red, while the female is a significantly drabber yellow-buff colour with two paler marks on top of the thorax. It is a medium-sized dragonfly approximately 52mm in length. The abdomen is wider than other members of the family, flattened and tapering to the end. It is widespread in the Arabian Peninsula where it prefers a habitat of rocky areas and dry watercourses as well as shallow, still, eutrophic waters such as small ponds, paddy fields, and desert pools, but it avoids oases. Adults only live for up to two months. Some odonate species are migratory and more broadly ranging than others, and this distribution is related to the type of temporary breeding habitats they utilize. Adults spend much of their time perched on vegetation although they have a fast, darting flight and hover frequently.