Suborder Anisoptera (dragonflies)

Kingdom: Animalia > Phylum: Arthropoda > Class: Insecta > Order: Odonata > Suborder Anisoptera

These are the dragonflies and Anisoptera means unequal-winged from the fact that the hind wings are usually shorter and wider than the forewings. The eyes are large and usually touch at the top of the head. In the UK there are around 30 different species.

‘When foraging, dragonflies can be categorized as “perchers” or “fliers.” Perchers spend much of their time stationary, making short flights from perches to capture prey and then perching to consume it. In contrast, fliers are on the wing for a large part of their feeding activity, capturing their prey in the air and swallowing small prey while in flight; they do however perch to consume larger prey.’

The number of species in each family, taken from CoL, is just to give a general idea and is not necessarily up to date. I have only listed the species where I have a photograph.

  1. Superfamily Aeshnoidea
    1. Family Aeshnidae – hawkers or darners — 543 sp.
      1. Aeshna affinis, Southern migrant hawker
      2. Aeshna cyanea, Southern hawker
      3. Aeshna grandis, Brown hawker
      4. Brachytron pratense, Hairy hawker
      5. Anax junius, Common green darner
    2. Family Gomphidae – clubtails — 964 sp.
      1. Gomphus pulchellus, Western clubtail
    3. Family Neopetaliidae — 1 sp
    4. Family Petaluridae – petaltails — 10 sp.
  2. Superfamily Cordulegastroidea
    1. Family Cordulegastridae – spiketails — 92 sp.
  3. Superfamily Libelluloidea
    1. Family Corduliidae – emeralds — 377 sp
    2. Family Libellulidae – skimmers, etc — 1,031 sp.
      1. Libellula depressa, Broad-bodied chaser
      2. Libellula quadrimaculata, Four-spotted chaser
      3. Libellula saturata, Flame skimmer
      4. Orthetrum coerulescens, Keeled skimmer
      5. Sympetrum danae, Black darter
      6. Sympetrum fonscolombii, Red-veined darter
      7. Sympetrum internum, Cherry-faced meadowhawk
      8. Sympetrum striolatum, Common darter
    3. Family Macromiidae – cruisers
    4. Family Synthemistidae – tigertails — 43 sp.


Most of these were taken in the UK.

Dragonflies are quite harmless insects; they do not sting and will try to bite humans only when held captive.

Family Aeshnidae – hawkers or darners ~ 543 sp.

Family Gomphidae – clubtails ~ 964 sp.

Family Libellulidae – skimmers, etc ~ 1,031 sp.