Europe’s 10 Most Swift and Vibrant Dragonflies

Some common dragonfly species of the Northern Hemisphere.

A dragonfly falls under the order Odonata. This insect can easily be distinguished by its large, complex eyes, two pairs of strong transparent wings and a drawn out body. Dragonflies main habitat are lakes, ponds, streams and other wetlands. They usually feed on small insects such as: mosquitoes, bees, flies, ants and butterfly. Adult dragonflies held their wings away from, and perpendicular to, the body when at rest.

Female dragonfly lays eggs in or near water and 90% of its life span is spent beneath the water’s surface in the “nymph” form. There are at least 5500 known species of dragonfly in the world. Below are some of the common species of Northern Hemisphere dragonfly.

The Emperor Dragonfly

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The Emperor Dragonfly (Anax imperator) is a common British dragonfly that owns the largest wingspan. Its wingspan can grow up to 10.5 cm while its body length can reach up to 8 cm. Emperor dragonfly is a strong insect and will always defend its territory. Most likely one can see Emperor dragonfly hovering over water bodies that include rivers, big ponds and canals looking for a meal. Male appears a striking turquoise blue, with green thorax and black stripes decorate its abdomen while the female has a lighter green shade.

The Widow Skimmer

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The Widow Skimmer (Libellula luctuosa) is a popular species that finds its habitat at lakes and ponds across the United States. Female Widow Skimmer shows large dark wing spots along its lower wings and its wing tips are marked with smaller dark spots while males have white spots on its abdomen and white wing spots between the dark wing spots.

The Migrant Hawker

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The Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta) is a large species that can measure up to 60 mm long. They can be found in North Africa, Southern and Central Europe to the Baltic region. Male Migrant Hawker’s elongated body can have a turquoise blue, green and brown coloring. The species prefers still or slow-flowing water.

The Norfolk Hawker

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The Norfolk Hawker (Aeshna isosceles) is an extremely rare species of dragonfly in Great Britain. A distinct identification mark of this dragonfly is its yellow triangular mark on the second abdominal segment. Another familiar mark is its green eyes and translucent wings. A common Mediterranean species, Norfolk Hawkers are found in North Africa Southern Europe. Its habitat must include unspoiled grazing marsh dikes, clean freshwater and plenty of aquatic plants.

The Common Darter

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The Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum) is a common species found in Europe and can live in different types of water bodies. All Common Darter’s legs have a cream or yellow stripe on a black background. Females have light yellow thorax and abdomen and turns to a dark chocolate brown as it grow older. Males exhibit a reddish color as they mature.

The Great Pondhawk

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The Great Pondhawk (Erythemis vesiculosa) is found in still water habitats along the southern border areas and in the central parts of the United States. Males and females Great Pondhawk look similar but males own a much darker markings on the abdomen between the green markings. Also, males have a bright lime green thorax.

The Common Whitetail

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The Common Whitetail (Libellula lydia) is a common species across much of North America has an unusual appearance. The males sport a checkered look having white bodies and translucent wings having brownish-black bands. Females have a brown body and a different pattern of wing spots. Whitetail females can be distinguished by their smaller size, shorter bodies, and white zigzag abdominal stripes.

The Banded Pennant

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The Banded Pennant (Celithemis fasciata) is a common species found mostly in North America. They own an extensive, sharply defined black markings on its wings. Banded Pennant is a small dragonfly that may grow up to 1 1/2 inches. Its habitat includes ponds, lakes and sand bottom lakes ditches.

The Green Darner

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The Green Darner (Anax junius) is one of the largest dragonflies, with males growing up to 75 millimeters and female up to 68 millimeters in length. The distinct identification marks are its green thorax region and a reddish-brown coloration centrally in the abdominal region. Both male and female exhibit light blue abdominal coloration dorsally. Green Darner is mostly found in the northernmost part of the United States (Alaska) and south to Panama. This species prefers still or very slow-moving fresh water, with lots of aquatic vegetation, and can only flourish where there are no predatory fish.

The Broad-bodied Chaser

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The Broad-bodied Chaser (Libellula depressa) is mainly found in Wales and Southern England that could have a 70 millimeters wingspan. They live in near still-water lakes and ponds, hunting for small insects. The female has a brown abdomen with two yellow stripes. The male has a pale blue abdomen. Both the male and female broad-bodied chasers have dark brown, triangular patches at the base of all four wings.

14 thoughts on “Europe’s 10 Most Swift and Vibrant Dragonflies

  1. Denise O

    Between the writing, the photos and all around presentation, just a great read. Thank you for sharing.:)

  2. Franc Ramon

    These insects are small but they are really beautiful and fast. I hope to see more dragon flies in the wild.

  3. ricky bernardino

    When I was in grade school we use to live in the province and I catch dragonflies and play with or have them bike each other it on weekends. Now I realized I did a horrible thing to the insects =( Thanks to you for showing the nice photos and information so I can teach this to my nieces =)

  4. kulasa

    You just made me love dragonflies more! I have always been fascinated with their wings and eyes! The more colorful ones are my favorites! As a child I used to chase them, me bad 🙂 Now, I still chase them…only to take pictures 🙂 thank you once again for the awesome info!

  5. Ria C

    I didn't learn this in Biology! 🙂 hahahaha. Thanks for sharing these info Kuya. All these time, I thought a dragonfly has no variations. Silly me 🙂

  6. betchai

    i see the widow skimmer often but never got the luck to capture it since it is just too restless for me 🙁 still have to see the banded pennant and common whitetail. very informative again, Donald, love learning things from you.

  7. Engkantandang Malikot

    Lovely! ♥ I love dragon flies. ♥
    You are like Kuya Kim paps! 🙂 You know a lot of stuffs.

  8. Jessica Cassidy

    Those are colorful dragonflies and can't wait to see them in our backyard especially near the pond 🙂 I love the blue colors flying in our pond 🙂

  9. Tingting Rimart

    Back in the days, I catched dragonflies in our neigborhood in the Philippines. Electronic toys were not common back then.

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