Sussex Dragonfly Group

Vagrant Emperor
Anax ephippiger (Burmeister, 1839)
Synonym: Hemianax ephippiger
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Suborder: Anisoptera
Family: Aeshnidae

Vagrant Emperor
Anax ephippiger
Synonym: Hemianax ephippiger

Suborder: Anisoptera
Family: Aeshnidae

This Emperor species is a very rare visitor to Sussex with all records since 2011 and most of those on or near the coast.

Anax ephippiger
1 / 3
male
Photo: David Sadler
Anax ephippiger
2 / 3
male
Photo: David Sadler
Anax ephippiger
3 / 3
mating
Photo: David Sadler

National status
Rare migrant from sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East.

Status in Sussex
The first record was of one that was caught and photographed at Elm’s Farm, Icklesham on 13 November 2011. A male was then photographed at the Old Fort, Shoreham on 30 October 2013 and seen again on 2 November by David Saddler. Another was seen at Lancing Business Park on 1 October 2018 and was followed by a significant arrival in 2019 with records from Brighton, Cissbury Ring, Cuckmere Haven, Hove, Steyning and Worthing between 13 October and 8 November. One was at the Knepp Estate on 17 November 2021.

Distribution at 1km scale

Anax ephippiger distribution (all)
Anax ephippiger distribution pre 1980
Anax ephippiger distribution 1980 - 1989
Anax ephippiger distribution 1990 - 1999
Anax ephippiger distribution 2000 - 2009
Anax ephippiger distribution 2010 - 2019
Anax ephippiger distribution 2010 on

Flight times
In the UK this is a species that might be encountered at any time of the year including the winter. It is interesting that the Sussex records to date have all been in October and November. Its arrival in the UK seems to sometimes coincide with deposits of Saharan dust.

Phenology (adult)

Anax ephippiger phenology (all)
Anax ephippiger phenology pre 1980
Anax ephippiger phenology 1980 - 1989
Anax ephippiger phenology 1990 - 1999
Anax ephippiger phenology 2000 - 2009
Anax ephippiger phenology 2010 - 2019
Anax ephippiger phenology 2010 on

Habitat
Breeds in small ponds and marshes and can tolerate brackish conditions.

Similar species
See Southern Hawker for a discussion of possible confusion species. The dark blue patch on the top of the front end of the fairly dark abdomen is distinctive in the male with only the Lesser Emperor having anything similar.

This Emperor species is a very rare visitor to Sussex with all records since 2011 and most of those on or near the coast.

Anax ephippiger
1 / 3
male
Photo: David Sadler
Anax ephippiger
2 / 3
male
Photo: David Sadler
Anax ephippiger
3 / 3
mating
Photo: David Sadler

National status
Rare migrant from sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East.

Status in Sussex
The first record was of one that was caught and photographed at Elm’s Farm, Icklesham on 13 November 2011. A male was then photographed at the Old Fort, Shoreham on 30 October 2013 and seen again on 2 November by David Saddler. Another was seen at Lancing Business Park on 1 October 2018 and was followed by a significant arrival in 2019 with records from Brighton, Cissbury Ring, Cuckmere Haven, Hove, Steyning and Worthing between 13 October and 8 November. One was at the Knepp Estate on 17 November 2021.

Distribution at 1km scale

Anax ephippiger distribution (all)
Anax ephippiger distribution bre 1980
Anax ephippiger distribution 1980 - 1989
Anax ephippiger distribution 1990 - 1999
Anax ephippiger distribution 2000 - 2009
Anax ephippiger distribution 2010 - 2019
Anax ephippiger distribution 2020 on

Flight times
In the UK this is a species that might be encountered at any time of the year including the winter. It is interesting that the Sussex records to date have all been in October and November. Its arrival in the UK seems to sometimes coincide with deposits of Saharan dust.

Phenology (adult)

Anax ephippiger phenology (all)
Anax ephippiger phenology pre 1980
Anax ephippiger phenology 1980 - 1989
Anax ephippiger phenology 1990 - 1999
Anax ephippiger phenology 2000 - 2009
Anax ephippiger phenology 2010 - 2019
Anax ephippiger phenology 2020 on

Habitat
Breeds in small ponds and marshes and can tolerate brackish conditions.

Similar species
See Southern Hawker for a discussion of possible confusion species. The dark blue patch on the top of the front end of the fairly dark abdomen is distinctive in the male with only the Lesser Emperor having anything similar.