Anax imperator Leach, 1815
Blue Emperor

Type locality: Europe, no locality data available.


Male is similar to A. parthenope by (a) moderate size, Hw 44-49 mm; (b) dorsum of frons with blue to black anterior bar, basal mark narrower than vertex; (c) femora brown to black, rather like tibiae; (d) S4-10 largely blue or brown, with black dorsal and lateral markings (blue is green when teneral); (e) epiproct broad with truncate or widely notched apex, teeth usually only at apex. However, differs by (1) occurring throughout Africa; (2) thorax green, with antealar sinus often blue, rather than entirely brown; (3) membranule dark grey, base distinctly white, rather than largely pale grey; (4) S2-10 entirely blue, rather than only up to the base of S3 with the rest being brown; (5) apex of cerci rounded rather than truncate, without spine; (6) epiproct slightly longer than wide (ventral view). [Adapted from Dijkstra & Clausnitzer 2014]

Habitat description

Mostly standing and probably often temporary waters, but also rivers and possibly large lakes, in open landscapes. Often with emergent and aquatic vegetation. From 0 to 2800 m above sea level, but mostly below 1900.


confirmed: Algeria; Angola; Botswana; Cameroon; Cape Verde; Congo-Brazzaville; Democratic Republic of the Congo; Egypt; Equatorial Guinea; Ethiopia; Gabon; Gambia; Ghana; Kenya; Liberia; Libya; Malawi; Mali; Mauritania; Morocco; Mozambique; Namibia; Niger; Nigeria; Republic of Guinea; Republic of South Africa; Rwanda; São Tomé & Príncipe; Senegal; Socotra (Yemen); Somalia; Sudan; Swaziland; Tanzania; Togo; Tunisia; Uganda; Zambia; Zimbabwe

Male © Hans-Joachim Clausnitzer

Appendages (dorsal view)

Frons (dorsal view)

Map citation: Clausnitzer, V., K.-D.B. Dijkstra, R. Koch, J.-P. Boudot, W.R.T. Darwall, J. Kipping, B. Samraoui, M.J. Samways, J.P. Simaika & F. Suhling, 2012. Focus on African Freshwaters: hotspots of dragonfly diversity and conservation concern. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 10: 129-134.

Barcode specimen(s):

Adult, female; South Africa, Western Cape, © Dijkstra, K.-D.B.

Adult, female; South Africa, Western Cape, Kogelberg Nature Reserve © Dijkstra, K.-D.B.

Male; Democratic Republic of Congo, Katanga, Upemba National Park © Dijkstra, K.-D.B.

Female; Democratic Republic of Congo, Katanga, Upemba National Park © Dijkstra, K.-D.B.

Male; Democratic Republic of Congo, Katanga, © Dijkstra, K.-D.B.

Male; Liberia, Nimba County, East Nimba Nature Reserve © Dijkstra, K.-D.B. & M. Darpay

Male; Liberia, Nimba County, Mt Tokadeh © Dijkstra, K.-D.B.

Male; Cameroon, Centre Province, © Dijkstra, K.-D.B., J. Kipping & K. Schuette


  • Leach, W. E. (1815). Entomology. in Brewster, D. (editor) The Edinburgh Encyclopaedia. Edinburgh: William Blackburn, 9, 57-172. (Odonata, 136-137).
  • Balinsky, B.I. (1961). Observations on the dragonfly fauna of the coastal region of Zululand, with descriptions of three new species (Odonata). Journal Entomological Society Southern Africa, 24, 72-91. [PDF file]
  • Pinhey, E.C.G. (1961). Dragonflies (Odonata) of Central Africa. Occasional Papers Rhodes-Livingstone Museum, 14, 1-97. [PDF file]
  • Pinhey, E.C.G. (1966). Check-list of dragonflies (Odonata) from Malawi, with description of a new Teinobasis Kirby. Arnoldia, 2, 1-24. [PDF file]
  • Barnard, K.H. (1937). Notes on dragon-flies (Odonata) of the S. W. Cape with descriptions of the nymphs and of new species. Annals South African Museum, 32, 169-260. [PDF file]
  • Longfield, C. (1959). The Odonata of N. Angola. Part II. Publicacoes culturais Companhia Diamantes Angola, 45, 13-42. [PDF file]

Citation: Dijkstra, K.-D.B (editor). African Dragonflies and Damselflies Online. [2024-07-21].