White Faced Darter, Leucorrhinia dubia

The white-faced darter (Leucorrhinia dubia), also known as the small whiteface, is a species of dragonfly that can be found in northern areas of Europe and northwestern areas of Asia. Its range includes Austria, Belgium, China, France, Germany, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Spain, the Ukraine, and the United Kingdom, among other areas. It prefers to reside in bogs near lakes and other water sources with abundant tree cover. It can be seen between May and July in Great Britain, but is active during other times of the year in different regions.

The white-faced darter reaches an average body length of up to one inch, with a wingspan of up to 1.1 inches. Males are predominately black in color with orange and red markings occurring along the body that darken as they mature. Females of all ages and young males are marked with pale yellow. Adult members of this species have white frons on the head and transparent wings with brown markings at the base.

Male white-faced darters hold territories that are near water, but breeding most often occurs over the water before moving into these territories. After breeding, females lay eggs in the stems or leaves of aquatic vegetation, like cottongrass. The resulting aquatic larvae remain hidden in the vegetation, feeding during the night, although it is sometimes active during the daytime hours. This species matures between one and three years of age, but most young individuals emerge at two years of age. After emerging, males take about twelve days to reach adulthood while females take about two weeks.

The total population numbers of this species are unknown, but it is thought to be common in all areas of its range excluding southern areas. It is threatened by habitat loss due to water pollution and agricultural practices. Suggested conservation efforts for the species include research, monitoring, and habitat conservation. The white-faced darter is protected in some areas of its range by Biodiversity Action Plans and by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. It appears on the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “Least Concern.”

Image Caption: Male specimen of the dragonfly Leucorrhinia dubia. Credit: Christian Fischer/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)