With a body length of about 85 mm the Magnificent Emperor (Anax immaculifrons) is Europe's largest dragonfly. It's also one of its most impressive species, with its unhurried, king-of-the-hill flight and its formidable hunting skills. Standing in a river and seeing this beautiful insect drifting low and slowly towards you really is a wonderful experience. Anax immaculifrons is an oriental species with a few isolated (and typically small) populations in the Eastern Mediterranean, e.g. on Cyprus, Rhodes and some smaller islands in the Aegean. The male's abdomen is black with pink-and-beige bands, the eyes are light blue, the frons is white (hence the species' scientific name) and the thorax is greenish on top with two wide light-blue bands on the side. The female looks very much like a Cordulegaster, sporting broad yellow bands on her black thorax and abdomen. We were very fortunate to see and photograph two males of this wonderful species during a 2009 field trip. Females, unfortunately, weren't to be seen at the time of our visit and therefore remain on our to-do list.
For an overview of the Magnificent Emperor's distribution in Europe, hover your mouse pointer over the map symbol .
With the authors' permission we have based this map on data published in Kalkman et al. (2010).
Hover your mouse pointer over a thumbnail below to display a larger version of it. Or click on a thumbnail to display the photograph (at 1050 x 700 pixels) in a new window. And then, if you'd like to get even closer, you can drag the ZoomBox from the top-left corner of that window across the photograph. Note that you may have to refresh the window manually (by pressing F5 on your keyboard) for the ZoomBox to display correctly.