Dragonflies are stunning insects that can be seen in a variety of vibrant colors and there are over 7,000 species worldwide today. While there is often a common misconception that they only live twenty-four hours, dragonflies can actually survive one to eight weeks into adulthood. Dragonflies are large insects, and although many now extinct species dating back to prehistoric times were much larger, some of them still exist. So, we have listed the largest dragonflies in the world by length.
# 10: Green Eyed Hawk
The green-eyed hawk reaches 2.83 inches in length and is found throughout Europe, the Mediterranean, and North Africa. Although not under any threat, the green-eyed hawk is considered a rare and protected species in the UK, where it is known as the Norfolk hawk. These peddlers have a brown body with a yellow triangular mark on their belly and, as the name suggests, green eyes. Green-eyed hawkers prefer to live in swamps and near ponds where they lay their eggs. Males often fly around ponds to protect their territory, or hover over the center if the pond is small.
# 9: Brown Hawker
Brown hawkers are found throughout Europe, but they are especially widespread in the UK. They are easily recognizable by their appearance, as they have a brown body with bronze wings, although females have a few yellow markings on their abdomen, while males have blue and yellow markings. Brown hawks reach a length of about 2.9 inches and inhabit forested areas, although they breed in areas of water that are either stationary or slow. These dragonflies are extremely territorial and fiercely defend their territory from any intruders, often flying back and forth.
# 8: common hawker
The common hawk is widespread throughout most of Europe and North America and can reach 2.9 inches in length. Also known as the moor dragonfly, they are commonly found in swamps and woodlands near small bodies of water. Common hawks have a stunning appearance with blue spots on their abdomen, although males have a black base color and females are brown with blue or sometimes yellow spots. Female common hawks sometimes try to avoid mating by diving from the sky and pretending to die when they see a male.
# 7: common green darner
As the official insect of Washington, the common green chokeberry is widespread in North America, but is also found in the Caribbean, Panama, Tahiti, China, and Japan. Reaching a length of 3 inches and a wingspan of 3.1 inches, the common green stalk is easily recognizable by its large size and bright green color. They are usually found around ponds and lakes, where females lay their eggs in the vegetation surrounding the water. Common green darning darns feed on live prey throughout their entire life cycle, while aquatic nymphs (the stage between the egg and the adult dragonfly) eat tadpoles and small fish, and adult dragonflies eat various insects such as butterflies, bees, and other smaller dragonflies.
# 6 The Biggest Dragonfly: The Imperial Dragonfly
The imperial dragonfly, also known as the blue emperor, lives around ponds, lakes and slowly flowing rivers throughout Europe, Africa and parts of Asia. At about 3.1 inches long, the emperors are easily recognizable by their size, color, and belly, which seems to sink during flight. Males have a bright blue belly and green head, while females are mostly green, and both have a dark stripe on their back. Imperial dragonflies are rarely immobile and often even eat their prey while flying, including butterflies and other dragonflies.
# 5 The Biggest Dragonfly: The Golden Rings Dragonfly
Mostly found in Great Britain, at 3.3 inches, the gold-ringed dragonfly is the largest in the British Isles. With their stunning black and yellow appearance, it’s easy to see where these dragonflies got their name from, as their yellow markings really do look like gold rings. Preferring to live near rivers and streams, the much larger female lays eggs in shallow water, where the larvae merge with the silt at the bottom. Gold-ringed dragonflies are capable of flying at high altitudes and feed mainly on small insects such as flies and midges, but also sometimes on butterflies and bees.
# 4 Biggest Dragonfly: Swamp Darner
The Swamp Scooper is widespread in North America and, as the name suggests, is often found around swamps and sometimes near forest ponds. At first glance, they often appear to be dark brown, but in fact they have several thin lemon green rings on their belly. At 3.5 inches in length, they are known to be quite heavy dragonflies that fly very slowly. Females lay their eggs on a tree or leaves near shallow water, and when they hatch, the nymphs then crawl into the water. Swamp corkscrews feed on a variety of insects and smaller dragonflies and often catch their prey while flying.
# 3 Biggest Dragonfly: Coastal Petal
Coastal petal (petalura beacha) an endangered species of dragonfly from Australia, where it prefers to live among the dense vegetation surrounding the marshes. Reaching a length of about 4 inches, they have a distinctive appearance that makes them easy to identify. Coastal petals have black heads with yellow spots, while their bodies have black and yellow stripes, and males have orange “petal tails” at the ends of their bodies to attract females. These are especially unusual dragonflies because, unlike most other species, they lay their eggs in burrows that are usually found near a body of water. Often their larvae are at risk of being attacked by predators, which is one of the reasons for the decline in their population.
# 2 Biggest dragonfly: giant petal
In second place with a length of 4.92 inches is the giant petal. (petalura ingentissima) which is located in Queensland, Australia. With a black body and yellow markings, they look very similar to the coastal tail petal, although in males the petal is black instead of orange. Giant petals also prefer wet and wetlands such as swamps, and their larvae are commonly referred to as “pit dwellers” because they live in burrows and usually feed on any passing prey they can catch.
# 1 Biggest Dragonfly: Giant Darner
Giant darner (anax valsinghami) the largest dragonfly in the world with a length of 5 inches and the same wingspan. They are easily recognizable by their large blue spots on their body, green head and crisp wings. While at first glance they may appear similar to common green cuttings, they have a much larger belly that often appears to curve upward. They are commonly found near ponds, streams, and swamps in the American Southwest and even Mexico. Giant corkscrews are extremely beneficial as they eat a wide variety of insects that are classified as pests, such as mosquitoes. Females lay their eggs in shallow water, and when they hatch, the nymphs eat small fish and tadpoles. There is a healthy population of giant darners and they are classified as the species of least concern.