Anax ephippiger (Vagrant Emperor)

This is another species that has the taxonomists debating, the debate being over the genus – should it be Anax or Hemianax ephippiger? The Spanish universally refer to Hemianax ephipigger. However, the World Odonata List doesn’t actually recognize Hemianax as a genus at all so, for the moment, I’m in the Anax camp. The same is true for Anax/Hemianax papuensis  where the Ozzies prefer Hemianax.

DNA analysis documneted in 2023 has dispensed with Hemianax, so Anax it is. [See my article, Triangle of Confusion, discussing these naming issues.]

After just a single lucky encounter in 2015, when I spotted a pair ovipositing amidst several Lesser Emperors, in 2017 I found swarms of Vagrant Emperors at the Parque Natural del Hondo just south of Alicante. These provided some good opportunities for flight shots. I still haven’t seen a settled Vagrant. 😉

Speaking now from personal experience, it is quite easy to confuse A. parthenope and A. ephippiger since both males have a distinctive “blue saddle” at S2. Eye colour and the pattern of the thorax side distinguish them but care is necessary.

Id Notes

  • brown eyes (A. parthenope has green eyes)
  • ♂ blue saddle on S2 (does not extend into S3 as in A. parthenope)
  • ♂ 2-tone side of thorax, split horizontally, brown above, greenish-yellow below
  • ♂ pairs of pale brown spots on S8-10