Emperor dragonfly

Emperor Dragonfly

©Mike Snelle

Emperor Dragonfly

©Ross Hoddinott/2020VISION

Emperor dragonfly

Scientific name: Anax imperator
The Emperor dragonfly is an impressively large and colourful dragonfly of ponds, lakes, canals and flooded gravel pits. It flies between June and August and even eats its prey on the wing.

Species information


Length: 7.8cm

Conservation status


When to see

June to August


The Emperor dragonfly is a very large, impressive dragonfly that is on the wing from June to August. It is a common species of large ponds and lakes, as well as canals and ditches, but 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 up high to look 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 recognised by the combination of its large size and mostly blue colour.


Found in Central and Southern England and South Wales.

Did you know?

The Emperor dragonfly is a characteristic dragonfly of new ponds and flooded gravel pits where, for the first few years, the larvae may be extremely common.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many wetland nature reserves for the benefit of the wildlife they support. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you'll find out about exciting wildlife news, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities, and will be helping local wildlife along the way. Encourage dragonflies and damselflies into your garden by having a wildlife-friendly pond. To find out more about gardening for wildlife, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.