Belongs to: hawkers

Emperor dragonfly Anax imperator

Best time to see: early Jun to late Aug

Key facts

The largest British dragonfly, fast-flying and the male deep blue

Large well-vegetated ponds, lakes and gravel pits, and sometimes ditches and canals

Widespread in southern England and Wales


The largest British dragonfly with a wingspan of 10.5 cm; male with deep blue, female with greenish abdomen

Patrols tirelessly at speed up and down stretches of water in search of prey

Flies from early June to late August, feeding on almost any flying insect including smaller dragonflies


Females lay eggs into aquatic plants often far from the water's edge, and these hatch in about three weeks

After hatching, the larvae prey on a wide range of underwater creatures, remaining in the water for up to two years

Larvae climb a plant stem in early summer then split their skins and emerge as a fully grown adult

© Hugh Venables

© Andy McGeeney