Quick ID Guides

Welcome to my quick identification guides for UK dragonflies and damselflies.

Any text within the guides has been kindly supplied by
Mr Ken Crick
All the photography and graphics are
by Chris Brooks.

Dragonfly and Damselfly

Identification Guide "Quick ID Links"


Welcome to my quick identification guide for the Dragonflies and Damselflies of the United Kingdom. By following the links you will hopefully be able to identify the species you actually observed.

Please note that this is only intended as a general guide to the identication and with some species you may need to consult other reference sources.

Once you have identified the species you observed then there is more imformation available to view in the narrative section of this website. These narratives can be visited from the main roll out menu.

Every narrative will describe the species and their behaviour in much greater detail, including their size, habitat, flight period and breeding habits.

The image above is an example of what you will see by following the links. The page images will show the identifying features of both the male and the female.

There will be some accompanying text to the images which has been kindly written and supplied by Mr Ken Crick.

Dragonfly Identification Guides 

Dragonflies are generally much larger and sturdier than damselflies. They have broader and thicker abdomens and have much larger eyes. When at rest dragonflies perch with their wings spread in a "crucifix" position.

Question: - Does the dragonfly appear to be a sturdy species with a wide / broad flat abdomen? Does it have dark patches at the wing bases? If so it is likely to be one of the Chasers.

Broad Bodied Chaser (Libellula depressa)

Four Spotted Chaser (Libellula quadrimaculata)

Scarce Chaser (Libellula fulva)

Question: - Is the dragonfly quite small with an active habit? Does it have a thinner abdomen? Does it perch with its wings pushed forwards at 45 degrees to its body? If so it is likely to be one of the Darters.

Black Darter (Sympetrum danae)

Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum)

Ruddy Darter (Sympetrum sanguineum)

Question: - The dragonfly is not a Darter. Is it slightly larger but still perches with its wings pushed forwards at 45 degrees? Does the male have blue abdomen? If so it is likely to be one of the Skimmers.

Black Tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum)

Keeled Skimmer (Orthetrum coerulescens)

Question: - Is the dragonfly large in size? Does it have a long abdomen? Are the wings held rigidly in a crucifix position? If so it could be one of the following: -

Golden Ringed Dragonfly (Cordulegaster boltonii)

Brown Hawker (Aeshna grandis)

Southern Hawker (Aeshna cyanea)

Migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta)

Emperor Dragonfly (Anax imperator)

Question: - Does the dragonfly have a metallic green body? Is it of a medium size? If so its likely to be one of the Emerald family.

Downy Emerald (Cordulia aenea)

Brilliant Emerald (Somatochlora metallica)

Question: - Is the dragonfly yellow and black and have a pronounced club like tail? If so it is likely to be the Club Tailed Dragonfly

Club Tailed Dragonfly (Gomphus vulgatissimus)

Damselfly Identification Guides

Damselflies are much smaller and dantier than dragonflies and generally perch with their wings closed, parallel to their abdomens. The species can generally be classed by their colouring, which often appears somewhere in its name.

Question: - Is the damselfly a pale blue or cream in colour? Does it have prominent white feathery legs that hang down in flight? If so its likely to be the: -

White Legged Damselfly (Platycnemis pennipes)

Question: - Does the damselfly have a red or a partially red abdomen? Is so its likely to be either the: -

Small Red Damselfly (Ceriagrion tenellum)

Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula)

Question: - Is the damselfly blue or yellow based and have prominent red or dull red eyes? If so its likely to be the: -

Red Eyed Damselfly (Erythromma najas)

Question: - Is the damselfly green in colour? If so its likely to be the: -

Emerald Damselfly (Lestes sponsa)

Question: - The families of blue damselflies can be very difficult to tell apart and very close examination of the abdominal black markings may be necessary to achieve a positive identification. Is the damselfly blue or partially blue? Does it have blue eyes? If so it is likely to be either the: -

Azure Damselfly (Coenagrion puella)

Variable Damselfly (Coenagrion pulchellum)

Common Blue Damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum)

Scarce Blue Tailed Damselfly (Ischnura pumilio)

Blue Tailed Damselfly (Ischnura elegans)

Southern Damselfly (Coenagrion mercuriale)

Question: - Is the damselfly slightly larger than other species? Is it a striking metallic blue / green in appearance? Are the wings highly coloured, usually dark blue in the males and green / bronze in the females. If so its likely to be one of the Demoiselles: -

Banded Demoiselle (Calopteryx splendens)

Beautiful Demoiselle (Calopteryx virgo)

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