Saturday, 16 January 2010

Species Profile: Broad-Bodied Chaser

Most dragonflies in the UK have a common name reflecting how they behave in flight. The largest are the hawkers, followed by the chasers, skimmers and darters. There are three species of chaser in the UK, one of which (the scarce chaser) is quite rare. The broad-bodied chaser (Libellula depressa) is the largest and most colourful, it's name coming from the fact that it has a very broad, flattened abdomen. The male is powder blue and the female yellow and brown, though the colours do fade with age. Both the male and female have yellow spots at the sides of the segments of the abdomen.


Male, faded with age (note that the yellow spots have faded to brown):


In 2007 the UK public were asked to help map the current distribution of the broad-bodied chaser. The results can be seen here. This species used to be confined to the south of the UK, but is now gradually expanding northwards.

Broad-bodied chasers are relatively easy to photograph compared with some other UK species as males are aggressively territorial and often return to the same perch after short flights. Females often visit water bodies when males are absent to avoid being harassed. Their preferred habitat is ponds and small lakes and they are often the first species to colonise new ponds. These photos of an adult male were taken in my garden at Frog End less than two months after we dug the pond:

The first broad-bodied chaser to emerge from our pond in 2009:

Exuvia, showing the length in cm:


  1. Lovely shots. getting a bit short on species here. only saw 2 today.

  2. I think this is one of my favourite species because they are often the kindest to me, posing in accessible places for a reasonable length of time.
    Great shots, Helen - but then that almost goes without saying.

  3. Helen great pictures. I find your images and some on the bird blogs I follow better than those in my field guide for identifying the baffling array of species around me.

  4. Thanks Adrian. I still have terrible trouble with damselflies myself. We're all learning :-)

  5. Never met a "dragonfly-enthusiast." And I learned something today reading your post. It made me want to do a doodle of one someday.


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