Golden-ringed Dragonfly - Cordulegaster boltonii

Adult size

Overall length: 77 - 83mm   Hindwing length: 41 - 50mm

Distinguishing features

Britain’s longest dragonfly and unmistakeable in colour with wasp like black and yellow markings. Stunning when encountered. Sexes very similar. A high summer species.

Identification - for help with terms see glossary

Mature males

Have black abdomen with pairs of yellow ‘stripes’. Thick yellow antehumeral stripes. Eyes are bright green.

Mature females

Are virtually identical to males in appearance but have a longer abdomen with a long ovipositor.

Immature males & females

Virtually identical to mature adults but with brown eyes.


Breeds in acidic running waters associated with heathland, moorland and bogs. Can be found in very small runnels and streams. Very much associated with lowland heath in Dorset.


Males are territorial and will patrol up and down even small patches of streams. Both sexes will often be found far away from water and are very active and visible hunters over open heathland.

Status and distribution

Common and widespread in western Britain in suitable habitat, very local in the east. Common on heathland sites in Dorset.

Flight period

Main flight period is May to October, peaking in mid June to mid August.

Similar species

Possible only confusion would be with immature large hawkers but large size and bright vivid markings really make this species quite unique.

More photographs

Click on the photos below to enlarge...


Mature Male

Mature Female

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