The Emperor Dragonfly is the largest dragonfly found in England and is also one of the fastest flying insects in the country. It can be seen flying over weedy ponds, lakes, slow-flowing rivers and canals around May to September, especially in the south of England. It is a powerful flier that likes to fly two to seven metres above water.
The Emperor Dragonfly has a body length of around seven and half centimetres and has a wingspan of about ten centimetres. The wings are quite broad with noticeable black veins running through them. It beats its front and hind wings alternatively and not together like most insects. The male Emperor Dragonfly has a deep blue abdomen with a black stripe running down it and the female has a green and brown abdomen. The Emperor Dragonfly has a green head and thorax. The thorax is the middle part of the body. It also has two very large blue eyes and six legs that are brown and yellow at the base.
The female Emperor Dragonfly makes slits in stems of waterweed and then lays her eggs inside the slits. Larvae, called ‘nymphs’, hatch out of the eggs and live in the water for nearly two years feeding on tadpoles and water insects. When the nymphs eventually leave the water, they develop into adult Common Hawkers.