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NZ Bush Giant Dragonfly

Uropetala carvoei


This is giant dragonfly - they can be up to 86mm long with a wingspan of 130mm, is the largest of dragonflies in NZ. They have a very striking black and yellow patternation of colour across their whole body. The tail is predominantly black with small yellow segments on the leading vertical edge of each segment of their abdomen. Their thorax is twice as deep as the point where the thorax adjoins and has 3 lengthwise yellow stripes on a black base. There is also a width-wise one between the two sets of wings join the body, and a more orange one in-front of the leading wings. The head is predominantly black with yellow patches to the side of the mandible, and between that and the eyes. Up close it is the stuff of nightmares!! There are no discernible claspers on this dragonfly so it is likely to be a female.


On hatching the nymphs tunnel underground for about 5 years. They need a chamber half-filled with water, where they emerge in the dark to seek passing prey. Nymphs are rarely observed being very sensitive to disturbance. On the otherhand, the adults are massive and can be seen flying from 80-100m away. They are slow noisy fliers and, unlike their smaller cousins may be seen resting for extended periods of time. This one remained settled in one spot for about 10minutes. They feed on insects, right up to cicadas and are themselves preyed upon by rats, kingfishers and even wasps. They can be found well away from any open water.


I almost fell over this dragonfly resting on the grass. Photos were taken on my phone and I was within a matter of centimeters of her, and she wasn't in the least bit worried!

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Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway 7 months ago

Wow they deserve to be called 'giant'.
Great spotting and notes.

remkinloch 10 months ago

Many thanks Robert. I was very surprised at how long she rested for!

triggsturner 10 months ago

This is a beauty Rach. Although quite widespread they never seem to be that common at such close quarters so good spotting!

Spotted by

Waikato, New Zealand

Lat: -37.93, Long: 175.49

Spotted on Feb 5, 2019
Submitted on Feb 10, 2019

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