The Emperor dragonfly also known as the Blue emperor, is a large species of dragonfly, reaching an average of 78 millimetres in length. It has a wide distribution, being found throughout Africa and most of Europe, the Arabian Peninsula as well as southwestern and central Asia. With the warming of the climate, its range is expanding northwards in Europe. Like other members of the Aeshnidae family, A. imperator have long and thin abdomens, have extremely good sight and are voracious insect predators. Males are distinguished by their blue abdomen marked with a dorsal black stripe and an apple green thorax, while females are mostly green.
Emperor dragonflies are associated with standing or slow-running freshwater ecosystems, where they will breed and to a certain extent catch their prey. They can also fly high up into the sky in search of prey. Males are territorial and are known to patrol over their territory and exclude other males. After mating in flight, the females will lay their eggs onto aquatic plants. The larvae are aquatic predators, feeding on other insects.
A. imperator is a very common species, its range is very wide and its population stable. Although local declines due to habitat destruction and water pollution may occur, there are no threats at a global scale; the species is therefore considered as ‘Least Concern’ in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Adult emperor dragonflies spend large amounts of time flying tirelessly using their four large and powerful wings; they are able to fly forwards or backwards or hover, just like a helicopter!