What Did You See?

A Quick Guide

All the species recorded in Norfolk have their own pages, accessable through the menu to the left. But if you're not sure what you saw, then try this quick identification guide.

Firstly, was it a dragonfly or a damselfly? Dragonflies are large (over 2 inches), fast-flying and typically rest with their wings spread out. Damselflies are small (typically under 2 inches), fly close to the ground and rest with their wings closed over their back.


If it was a dragonfly you need to break it down to family: Hawker,Chaser,Darter or Skimmer.

Hawkers are large, fast flying and wizz around usually above head height, they rarely settle. In order of emergence the species are: Hairy, Norfolk, Emperor, Brown, Common, Southern and Migrant. (the Lesser Emperor is also in this group, but is a rare migrant from the continent)

Chasers perch on vegetation and then chase after their prey, and are usually seen about 2 feet above the water surface. Their bodies are wider, they perch frequently, and are quite fast flyers. Species are Broad-bodied, Four-spotted and Scarce Chaser.

Darters are smaller and lighter versions of Chasers, slimmer and more delicate. They sometimes settle on the ground, but are more often to be found perched on leaves or the tops of plants. Speies are Common, Ruddy, Black, Red-veined, Vagrant and Yellow-winged. (The latter three are rare migrants)

Skimmers are most often seen flying low over water, skimming the surface. They are fast flyers, and nearly always perch on the ground. Species are Black-tailed and Keeled.


First, eliminate the easy options:

Demoiselles are large (nearly 2 inches long) with coloured wings. Both Banded and Beautiful have been recorded here, but Banded is far more common.

The Emerald's rest with the wings half open and are green or blue - Emerald, Scarce Emerald and Southern Emerald are the Norfolk species.

The rest are best identified by the colour of the abdomen:

Mostly blue? Try Common Blue, Azure or Variable.

Mostly black with a blue spot on the tail? Blue-tailed, Red-eyed or Small Red-eyed.

Mainly red. Then Large or Small Red damselfly

If you haven't found it yet then it's probably a female (Many have different colour forms).

Try on the colour of the stripes on the thorax:

Yellow: Large Red, Red-eyed, Azure

Violet: Blue-tailed,

Blue: Common Blue, Azure, Variable, Blue-tailed,

White: Common Blue,

Green: Common Blue, Azure, Blue-tailed.

Red: Blue-tailed