Emperor dragonfly

Anax imperator


The emperor dragonfly is a very large, impressive dragonfly which is on the wing from June to August. It is a common dragonfly of large ponds and lakes as well as canals and ditches and is rarely found away from water. The female lays her eggs in floating pondweed. One of the largest dragonfly species in Europe, the emperor dragonfly flies high up looking for insect-prey such as butterflies and chaser dragonflies. It catches its prey in mid-air and may eat it on the wing.

How to identify

Male emperor dragonflies are pale blue with an apple-green thorax and a black stripe running the length of the body. Females are similar but a duller greeny-blue. Both have greeny-blue eyes. This species is easily recognised by the combination of size and mostly blue colour.

Where to find it

Found in central and southern England and South Wales.

When to find it

  • June
  • July
  • August

How can people help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many wetland nature reserves for the benefit of all kinds of wildlife, including the impressive emperor dragonfly. But these precious sites are under threat from development, drainage and climate change. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you'll find out about exciting wildlife happenings, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities and be helping local wildlife along the way.

Species information

Common name
Emperor dragonfly
Latin name
Anax imperator
Dragonflies and damselflies
Length: 7.8cm
Conservation status