Friday, 9 February 2018

The Emperor's Mask

I decided after photographing the labial mask of the Migrant Hawker last weekend that I should attempt to photograph the mask of Britian's biggest dragonfly, the Emperor Dragonfly. A look through past photos showed that I had not spent much time trying to photograph this so after work this week, I spent an hour at Grove Ferry trying to net a good sized specimen. Thankfully after a short while, I managed to net a near fully grown male nymph of 45mm in length which I decided to bring home for a photography session during the evening in one of my indoor tanks. Everything about the Emperor Dragonfly nymph oozes power, speed, strength and attitude and unlike some other nymphs, this nymph was going to be a challenge to perform in the tank. I had put some weed in the front of the glass tank to attract the nymph and hoped it would provide me with a few angles from which to photograph from but it seemed an age until I started to get a few photos. I had to do a little teasing to get some of the angles required but eventually and with a lot of patience, I was able to snap away and obtain a few shots showing the labial mask off well. I also introduced a small Stickleback in the tank to see whether I could see the Emperor Dragonfly nymph hunting but despite them being together on a few occasions which produced a few amusing photo opportunities, there was no attempt at all to hunt. Having seen a few Emperor Dragonfly nymphs hunting over the past few seasons, their speed of strike is pretty amazing and their success rate seems high from personal observations. They certainly are a force to avoid if you are a small insect under the water and they definitely don't lose any of that attitude when they emerge as adults. With a week off work now, I'm hoping for a few sessions out during the weekend and week ahead if the weather allows for some dipping and hopefully some more nymph photography indoors to keep the interest going.

Emperor Dragonfly Nymph Mask (45mm)
Emperor Dragonfly Nymph (45mm) eyeing up Stickleback



  1. Superb shots Marc, will the Stickleback get its prey or the others?

    1. Many thanks Bob. There would only be one winner here if the nymph caught it. I think most of their hunting is done during the hours of darkness.