Sussex Dragonfly Group

Golden-ringed Dragonfly
Cordulegaster boltonii (Donovan, 1807)
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Suborder: Anisoptera
Family: Cordulegastridae

Golden-ringed Dragonfly
Cordulegaster boltonii

Suborder: Anisoptera
Family: Cordulegastridae

Thanks to its long ovipositor, the female is actually our longest dragonfly (84mm, 3½ inches), though it is much slimmer than the Emperor. Perhaps because of its superficial likeness to a giant wasp, this species gave rise to the old folk name for a dragonfly - horse-stinger! On the black abdomen the yellow markings look like rings.

Cordulegaster boltonii
1 / 5
ovipositing female
Photo: David Sadler
Cordulegaster boltonii
2 / 5
female
Photo: David Sadler
Cordulegaster boltonii
3 / 5
male
Photo: David Sadler
Cordulegaster boltonii
4 / 5
male
Photo: Simon Linington
Cordulegaster boltonii
5 / 5
male
Photo: Simon Linington

More images

National status
Common in southern England, Wales, the Lake District and western Scotland.

Status in Sussex
Scarce. Mostly confined to Wealden Greensand and across the High Weald, most prominently on Ashdown Forest. Records suggest recent consolidation along the catchment of the Western Rother and expansion into the Low Weald along the upper Ouse.

Distribution at 1km scale

Cordulegaster boltonii distribution (all)
Cordulegaster boltonii distribution pre 1980
Cordulegaster boltonii distribution 1980 - 1989
Cordulegaster boltonii distribution 1990 - 1999
Cordulegaster boltonii distribution 2000 - 2009
Cordulegaster boltonii distribution 2010 - 2019
Cordulegaster boltonii distribution 2010 on

Historical records
Unwin (1853) appears to have been the first to record this species, in 1853 in the Brighton area. Furley (1931) reported that it was seen most years in July at Arundel. In the supposedly more suitable habitat of Ashdown Forest, it was not recorded until the 1920s (Chelmick 1979). Elsewhere in Sussex, records have always been somewhat localised. There were no records from the Wealden Greensand from the 1965-1978 survey (Chelmick 1979).

Flight times
Mid June - early September. There has been little obvious change in flight times during the decade to 2020.

Phenology (adult)

Cordulegaster boltonii phenology (all)
Cordulegaster boltonii phenology pre 1980
Cordulegaster boltonii phenology 1980 - 1989
Cordulegaster boltonii phenology 1990 - 1999
Cordulegaster boltonii phenology 2000 - 2009
Cordulegaster boltonii phenology 2010 - 2019
Cordulegaster boltonii phenology 2010 on
Cordulegaster boltonii habitat
1 / 1
Golden ringed Damselfly habitat at Old Lodge, Ashdown Forest
Photo: Simon Linington

Habitat
Lake outfalls and moderate to fast flowing streams with a gravel or silt bottom. May feed in woodland, as long as there are some clear, open areas.

Conservation
This species depends on the presence of open heathland. Removing coniferous plantations (and their dense shade) could help extend the number of sites it frequents.

Similar species
Seen well, there should be no difficulty in identifying this distinctly long, black and yellow dragonfly with green eyes.

Thanks to its long ovipositor, the female is actually our longest dragonfly (84mm, 3½ inches), though it is much slimmer than the Emperor. Perhaps because of its superficial likeness to a giant wasp, this species gave rise to the old folk name for a dragonfly - horse-stinger! On the black abdomen the yellow markings look like rings.

Cordulegaster boltonii
1 / 5
ovipositing female
Photo: David Sadler
Cordulegaster boltonii
2 / 5
female
Photo: David Sadler
Cordulegaster boltonii
3 / 5
male
Photo: David Sadler
Cordulegaster boltonii
4 / 5
male
Photo: Simon Linington
Cordulegaster boltonii
5 / 5
male
Photo: Simon Linington

National status
Common in southern England, Wales, the Lake District and western Scotland.

Status in Sussex
Scarce. Mostly confined to Wealden Greensand and across the High Weald, most prominently on Ashdown Forest. Records suggest recent consolidation along the catchment of the Western Rother and expansion into the Low Weald along the upper Ouse.

Distribution at 1km scale

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

Historical records
Unwin (1853) appears to have been the first to record this species, in 1853 in the Brighton area. Furley (1931) reported that it was seen most years in July at Arundel. In the supposedly more suitable habitat of Ashdown Forest, it was not recorded until the 1920s (Chelmick 1979). Elsewhere in Sussex, records have always been somewhat localised. There were no records from the Wealden Greensand from the 1965-1978 survey (Chelmick 1979).

Flight times
Mid June - early September. There has been little obvious change in flight times during the decade to 2020.

Phenology (adult)

Cordulegaster boltonii phenology (all)
Cordulegaster boltonii phenology pre 1980
Cordulegaster boltonii phenology 1980 - 1989
Cordulegaster boltonii phenology 1990 - 1999
Cordulegaster boltonii phenology 2000 - 2009
Cordulegaster boltonii phenology 2010 - 2019
Cordulegaster boltonii phenology 2020 on
Cordulegaster boltonii habitat
1 / 1
Golden ringed Damselfly habitat at Old Lodge, Ashdown Forest
Photo: Simon Linington

Habitat
Lake outfalls and moderate to fast flowing streams with a gravel or silt bottom. May feed in woodland, as long as there are some clear, open areas.

Conservation
This species depends on the presence of open heathland. Removing coniferous plantations (and their dense shade) could help extend the number of sites it frequents.

Similar species
Seen well, there should be no difficulty in identifying this distinctly long, black and yellow dragonfly with green eyes.