Visual Key: Emerald Dragonflies

Your suspect is one of the UK’s three Emerald Dragonfly species. All have quite limited distribution with the Downy Emerald (Cordulia aenea) being the most widespread.

The Brilliant Emerald (Somatochlora metallica) has disjoint populations at the two extremes of southeast England and western Scotland.

The  Downy Emerald (Cordulia aenea) has its core population in central southern and southeast England with isolated relict populations in Wales and western England.

The Northern Emerald (Somatochlora arctica), is restricted to Scotland, mainly western and above the Glasgow-Edinburgh line, with some presence in southwest Ireland. They are a dark black-green in appearance.
This can be done in monochrome but, other than eye colour, I don’t think colour varies greatly with age so switching to a colour comparison is safe and may make more sense.

Brilliant Emerald (Somatochlora metallica) – burnished bright green

Downy Emerald (Cordulia aenea) – dull bronze-green

male Northern Emerald (Somatochlora arctica)

For this photo of a splendid, immature male Northern Emerald (Somatochlora arctica) I am indebted to Pete Rose, with many thanks.

Mature specimens are even darker.

Since I don’t personally have a picture, this Northern Emerald (Somatochlora arctica) image is reproduced and adapted courtesy of Piet Spaans, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons.


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