Broad-bodied Chaser - Libellula depressa

Adult size

Overall length: 39 - 48mm   Hindwing length: 33 - 37mm

Distinguishing features

Easily told apart from the other chasers where both sexes have a very broad flattened abdomen which gives it a swollen appearance. A common high summer dragonfly and often encountered in garden ponds.

Identification - for help with terms see glossary

Mature males

Males will emerge with the same colours as females, but gradually their abdomen will develop a sky blue ‘pruinescence’ which is not a pigment colour but a waxy bloom. The abdomen is broad and flattened which is clearly seen from a side view. Both wings have dark patches which are also diagnostic. They have thin blue antehumeral stripes against a chestnut brown thorax and eyes are chestnut brown.

Immature males

Resemble adult females in colour with an olive-yellow abdomen bordered by yellow markings. Thorax is brown with yellow antehumeral stripes. Eyes are brown.

Mature females

The abdomen even broader than the males is olive-yellow with yellow patches along the side. The eyes and thorax are yellow-brown with pale antehumeral stripes. The abdominal colour of females will darken with age to a dirty olive-green to brown colour. Sometimes older females will develop a male like blue colour on middle segments.

Immature females

Resemble mature adults but are much paler in colour.

Habitat

Occurs in a wide range range of still water habitats seems to prefer smaller ponds and ditches rather than large lakes and gravel pits. Can be found on lowland heath and is a common garden pond species. A rapid coloniser of new sites.

Behaviour

Like the Four-spotted Chaser males are very aggressively territorial and will fly out from a perch to investigate other males and females. They are very visable therefore and easily approached. Has a fast and erratic flight. Females can also be mobbed by males at a suitable breeding site.

Status and distribution

Widespread and common throughout southern England and Wales.Expanding northwards.  Common and widespread in Dorset.


Flight period

Main flight period is April to September, peaking between May, June and July.

Similar species

Four-spotted Chaser, Scarce Chaser and Black-tailed Skimmer share certain colours but the broad flattened abdomen and dark wing patches makes this species easily identifiable.

More photographs

Click on the photos below to enlarge...

All photographs by kind permission & © of Ken Dolbear unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved.