Sussex Dragonfly Group

Broad-bodied Chaser
Libellula depressa Linnaeus, 1758
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Suborder: Anisoptera
Family: Libellulidae

Broad-bodied Chaser
Libellula depressa

Suborder: Anisoptera
Family: Libellulidae

This is a very common dragonfly, obliging too, as it often returns to the same perch to look out for prey or mark its territory. An early coloniser of new ponds and a garden favourite, it is easily identified with its broad, blue (male) or golden-brown (female) abdomen. Both sexes have dark patches at the base of each wing. The immature male initially looks like the female.

Libellula depressa
1 / 3
Adult female
Photo: David Sadler
Libellula depressa
2 / 3
Adult male
Photo: Simon Linington
Libellula depressa
3 / 3
Teneral
Photo: David Sadler

More images

National status
Widespread and common throughout southern and central England and Wales, rarer in the Midlands and absent in the North.

Status in Sussex
Common. Well distributed over the whole of the county, even in urban areas and across the South Downs.

Distribution at 1km scale

Libellula depressa distribution (all)
Libellula depressa distribution pre 1980
Libellula depressa distribution 1980 - 1989
Libellula depressa distribution 1990 - 1999
Libellula depressa distribution 2000 - 2009
Libellula depressa distribution 2010 - 2019
Libellula depressa distribution 2010 on

Historical records
Although Dannreuther (1939) said of this species that it was “a resident sometimes common due to immigration from the Continent, established as resident in places”, all other authors have treated it as common and widespread.

Flight times
Late April - early August. There is some indication that flight times are becoming earlier (see chart below).

Phenology (adult)

Libellula depressa phenology (all)
Libellula depressa phenology pre 1980
Libellula depressa phenology 1980 - 1989
Libellula depressa phenology 1990 - 1999
Libellula depressa phenology 2000 - 2009
Libellula depressa phenology 2010 - 2019
Libellula depressa phenology 2010 on
Libellula depressa habitat
1 / 1
Broad-bodied Chaser habitat of Reedbed and fen at Arundel WWT
Photo: Fran Southgate

Habitat
A wide variety of still waters, including garden ponds, lakes, canals and ditches, sometimes slow-moving rivers, but rarely those with acid waters; also open waters, with some aquatic and marginal plants.

Conservation
Clearance of dense aquatic growth is desirable but, as the larvae live in the mud at the bottom of a pond or other suitable water habitat, it needs to be sensitively carried out. Maintaining open bank-sides is also desirable for the adults. As a classic early coloniser, it readily takes to newly created garden ponds.

Similar species
This dragonfly with a distinctly broad abdomen shouldn’t pose too many identification problems. See under Scarce Chaser for discussion of the identification features of this and other chasers and for a photographic comparison.

This is a very common dragonfly, obliging too, as it often returns to the same perch to look out for prey or mark its territory. An early coloniser of new ponds and a garden favourite, it is easily identified with its broad, blue (male) or golden-brown (female) abdomen. Both sexes have dark patches at the base of each wing. The immature male initially looks like the female.

Libellula depressa
1 / 3
Adult female
Photo: David Sadler
Libellula depressa
2 / 3
Adult male
Photo: Simon Linington
Libellula depressa
3 / 3
Teneral
Photo: David Sadler

National status
Widespread and common throughout southern and central England and Wales, rarer in the Midlands and absent in the North.

Status in Sussex
Common. Well distributed over the whole of the county, even in urban areas and across the South Downs.

Distribution at 1km scale

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

Historical records
Although Dannreuther (1939) said of this species that it was “a resident sometimes common due to immigration from the Continent, established as resident in places”, all other authors have treated it as common and widespread.

Flight times
Late April - early August. There is some indication that flight times are becoming earlier (see chart below).

Phenology (adult)

Libellula depressa phenology (all)
Libellula depressa phenology pre 1980
Libellula depressa phenology 1980 - 1989
Libellula depressa phenology 1990 - 1999
Libellula depressa phenology 2000 - 2009
Libellula depressa phenology 2010 - 2019
Libellula depressa phenology 2020 on
Libellula depressa habitat
1 / 1
Broad-bodied Chaser habitat of Reedbed and fen at Arundel WWT
Photo: Fran Southgate

Habitat
A wide variety of still waters, including garden ponds, lakes, canals and ditches, sometimes slow-moving rivers, but rarely those with acid waters; also open waters, with some aquatic and marginal plants.

Conservation
Clearance of dense aquatic growth is desirable but, as the larvae live in the mud at the bottom of a pond or other suitable water habitat, it needs to be sensitively carried out. Maintaining open bank-sides is also desirable for the adults. As a classic early coloniser, it readily takes to newly created garden ponds.

Similar species
This dragonfly with a distinctly broad abdomen shouldn’t pose too many identification problems. See under Scarce Chaser for discussion of the identification features of this and other chasers and for a photographic comparison.