The head of a Common Darter - Sympetrum striolatum

Welcome to my Cornish Dragonfly pages

Here you will find image galleries, notes and articles on the 19 species of Anisoptera (true dragonflies) currently known to have occured in Cornwall.

If you would like to contact me about the dragonflies that you have found in Cornwall please get in touch via the Contact Steve option on the main menu.

Emperor Dragonfly eyesDuring a rare break in the rain, wind & gloom of the 2012 edition of a summer in Cornwall I popped down to Windmill Farm and found the dragonflies & damselflies well & truely making hay while the sun shone. The numbers involved were not as great as normal for the time of year, but by 2012 standards they were bouncing!

Sadly, although a welcome dose of sunshine was good news for both the insect & human strands of the web of life there was also a darker side to the day.

Drawing of a male Vagrant Emperor by Steve JonesThe Vagrant Emperor – Anax ephippiger (formerly Hemianax ephippiger) is a resident of the arid zones of the African continent, the Middle East & southwestern Asia where it’s larvae develop rapidly in temporary pools in a climate very different to our own here in the UK. However this remarkable insect is a prolific migrant and not only has it turned up in Britain in the depths of winter in the past but incredibly it has also reached Iceland where it remains the only dragonfly ever recorded.

In October 2010 after an absence of over 12 years the Vagrant Emperor returned to Cornwall, followed by a further sighting in February 2011, early tasters of a memorable 6 months in the history of this highly restless species in the Duchy. Much more was to follow!

Red-veined Darter male near Campillos, AndaluciaAnyone with even the remotest interest in the natural history of Cornwall can’t have failed to notice the huge influx of Painted Lady Butterflies – Cynthia cardui sweeping across our peninsula. It is one of the biggest events of it’s kind that the county has witnessed in over a decade.

During the second week of April 2009 I was staying in the Sierra Grazalema Natural Park, Andalucia, Spain, where hundreds of Painted Ladies (plus a handful of Clouded Yellows – Colias croceus) could be seen nectaring and presumably laying eggs everywhere we went.

Green Tiger Beetle adult displaying it's large powerful jawsOn the 30th May 2008 during a trip to Windmill Farm on the Lizard peninsula I did my usual circuit of all the dragonfly hotspots within the reserve, including the bunded northern scrapes. These bunds may not be the most attractive of features to have around a pool but they are a clever use of the material which had been excavated in order to create the pools in the first place, in that they make an effective windbreak around the entire water body.

Cornish Dragonfly ImagesSouthern Hawker - Aeshna cyanea

Welcome to my gallery of dragonflies occuring in Cornwall

Each photo will have captions giving information on where & when the species was photographed as well as identification tips. 

Remember to check back with us from time to time as new photographs will be added to this gallery as they become available.  


Dragonflies and damselflies are extremely beautiful insects which capture the very essence of summer as they perform their intricate aerobatics around the gleaming backdrop of rivers and pools on warm and sunny days. As such they are highly visible, and important indicators of the health of our wetlands.