Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Emperor in Ireland

Female Emperor Dragonfly, Anax imperator

One of the largest species of dragonflies in Europe, the Emperor Dragonfly (Anax imperator) is an impressive beast. Reaching an average length of c. 8 cm in flight they are unmistakable. Their markings too make it unlikely to be confused with other species. The males have an electric blue abdomen with a black stripe down it and a green thorax. The female pictured here differs in having a green abdomen. It was sighted on a meadowed area by a river glen near Cork city.
In Ireland, A. imperator was only recognised as being present on the island in 2000 (1). Previous records are not considered substantial enough to be accepted. A. imperator is widespread in southern parts of England and Wales with movement northwards noted in the 1980s. It is now established in Ireland as of 2000-01 with successful breeding being proved. This movement northwards of A. imperator follows the pattern of other dragonfly species that is taken by some authors as further evidence for global warming (2).

  1. Nelson et al., 2003. Irish Naturalists' Journal 27 pp. 266-272
  2. Ott, 2010. in Atlas of Biodiversity Risk pp. 78-79

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