Emperor Dragonfly

Anax imperator

The largest and most aggressive of Gateshead's dragons, the male has an imperial air of superiority about it, being bold, brash and obvious at the pond, fast, direct flight at head height, or dashing out over open water without fear, like it owns the whole pond.
Intruders are dealt with aggressively and they regularly feed on other dragonflies, even hawkers on occasion.
Likes larger ponds with aquatic vegetation, but I've encountered them at Far Pasture, Stargate, Shibdon Pond and Gibside in recent years, though the only reliable site is Kibblesworth Brickwork Pools where small numbers of males and females can be observed patrolling, hunting, mating and ovipositing on sunny days.
The earliest large dragonfly of our area, they may be encountered in June through to late August.

Emperor Dragonfly (male)
Apple green eyes and thorax, sky blue and black abdomen, the male
Emperor is a handsome feller indeed.

Unlike other large hawkers of our region he doesn't have the 'mosaic'
spotting along the abdomen, just a thick black line  

Even In flight his colouring is obvious and the kinked abdomen
is a feature to look out for in silhouette. 

This profile shot couldn't be clearer. The
only confusion species are very rare vagrants. 

Couldn't believe how close I was able to get to this feller,
I even looked at him through my magnifying glass. 

The female is every bit as impressive, just a lot greener.

I witnessed this female catch and devour a four-spotted chaser.
Note the sides of her abdomen are beginning to turn blue, not uncommon
in mature females.

It takes about two weeks for the Emperor to reach maturity, both males and females then return to the water, the males slightly earlier to seek out a territory.
When the female arrives, copulation takes place on a perch or up a tree not far from the water and lasts ten minutes, then the female usually oviposits alone, when she can be seen on floating vegetation in open water, abdomen curved under the surface, laying eggs.
Eggs hatch in about three weeks and larvae develop over two years. 


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