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Australian Emperor Dragonfly

Hemianax papuensis


The Australian Emperor Dragonfly, also known as the Yellow Emperor, is common in the Brisbane area of Queensland, Australia. It's a very large dragonfly, up to 70 mm long. Colours can vary considerably, but usually its abdomen is marked boldly in black and yellow, and the thorax a greenish-grey. The head is yellow with a T-shaped mark on the forehead (frons), the eyes are yellow-green, the leading edges of the wings are yellow. They have two pair of wings which are about equal size and are clean in colour, and there are only five main vein stems. The black pterostigma is carried near the wing tip. The main veins and the cross veins form the wing venation pattern, and these patterns are useful for species identification.


The Australian Emperor is widespread and common on larger bodies of water with tall vegetation on the banks. There's a large pond behind the building where these photos where take - the perfect habitat for dragonflies. Like other hawkers, it may hunt far from water. It flies throughout the summer from September to May. The insect habitually hunts fairly slowly, patrolling up and down like other hawkers, with short bursts at high speed. The males aggressively defend large territories over the water. If there is an intruder, it will always be driven away by a series of noisy air battles. The dragonfly usually has its patrol flight one meter about the water in quite a routine path within its territory.


I guess in this day and age a bit of corporate sponsorship never goes astray. Thank you, Toyota. It was a miserable day when I took these photos (wet and windy), but editing has been kept to a minimum. They've been re-lit simply because the sky was overcast, and the colours have been gently saturated as well. The biggest problem, however, was grain noise. An 8 megapixel camera can only get you so far, particularly when the light is poor, but luckily not too much clarity has been lost in the process; they're still quite sharp. Speaking of sharp, does anyone know if dragonflies bite or sting? PS: The blue reflection in the water droplets on the car's badge is that of my camera, and yes, it's blue.

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MaryParnellCarney 11 years ago

Argy Bee - I was just searching for that article. That's a good read!

MaryParnellCarney 11 years ago


naross 11 years ago

Thanks, Rieko. I'll keep my fingers away from them then. Look but don't touch is my usual standard.

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway 11 years ago

Here's a good read I just got a pocket cam - a really boring black brick. More than enough for me though.

RiekoS 11 years ago

When I was a child, I used to play with dragonflies . Yes, they can bite, but I don't think they will sting.

naross 11 years ago

They are amazing creatures, Argy, and they're quite hypnotic to watch flying around the pond. Regarding my camera - pocket cameras usually have awesome funky colours. There's nothing professional about my gear, but then I've never seen a pretty blue DSLR lol

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway 11 years ago

Fantastic detailed shots and great info. The eyes are incredible - no wonder they can see in all directions while flying. Blue cameras are quite acceptable. :)

Neil Ross
Spotted by
Neil Ross

Queensland, Australia

Spotted on Oct 8, 2010
Submitted on Apr 24, 2013

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