The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Blue Emperor dragonfly

Afrikaans name: Blou Keiser

Female Blue Emperor dragonfly - Anax imperator

Photo © Steven Herbert

Anax imperator

The Blue Emperor is a large and beautiful species of dragonfly with a length of over 7 cm and a wingspan of around 10 cm. Males have a slightly longer body than the females. The male is particularly attractive with a blue abdomen and green thorax. The female is also attractive, but her colours are duller. Males are seen far more often than females. The best place to see a female is at a stretch of water that is well-vegetated. She may be observed laying her eggs amongst the plants.

They are most commonly found near bodies of standing water. The Blue Emperor is a migratory species and is only present in South Africa between October and July. They are able to fly very fast and are very alert. Blue Emperors are mainly active during the day but may do some hunting at dusk.

The Blue Emperor hunts for food by patrolling over bodies of water or grassland. They feed on butterflies and other insects. They have also been recorded hunting other dragonflies. The Wandering Glider dragonfly is a particular favourite prey of the Blue Emperor. The nymphs of this species are known to feed on fish and tadpoles.

They have a wide distribution and may be found almost anywhere in South Africa. They are also found over most of Africa, as well as parts of Europe and Asia.

References and further reading

Sasol First Field Guide to Dragonflies of Southern Africa - Author: Warren and Vienessa Goodwin - Published: 0 - Page: 28

The Insects of Southern Africa - Author: Margaret Bevis - Published: 1964 - Page: 74

Wildlife of Southern Africa - Author: Martin Withers and David Hosking - Published: 2011 - Page: 260

Readers Digest Illustrated Guide to the Game Parks and Nature Reserves of Southe - Author: Editor - Alan Duggan - Published: 1991 - Page: 400

Pocket Guide - Insects of South Africa - Author: Mike Picker & Charles Griffiths - Published: 2015 - Page: 19

Freshwater Life - Author: C. Griffiths, J. Day & M. Picker - Published: 2015 - Page: 158

Insects of Southern Africa - 1st edition - Author: Clarke H. Scholtz and Erik Holm - Published: 1989 - Page: 46

Field Guide to Insects of South Africa - Author: Mike Picker, Charles Griffiths and Alan Weaving - Published: 0 - Page: 38

A Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of South Africa - Author: Warwick and Michele Tarboton - Published: 2015 - Page: 108

African Insect Life - revised edition - Author: S.H. Skaife - Published: 1979 - Page: 228


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