Broad-bodied Chaser – Libellula depressa

European common name: Broad-bodied Chaser

The Broad-bodied Chaser – Libellula depressa, is a beautiful dragonfly that often visits new ponds.


LibellulidaeChasers, Skimmers, & Darters

Attractive mid-sized dragonfly, with a short and broad, flattened, abdomen. Flight is fast and agile, low across the water.

Mature males are striking in appearance, with a distinctive powder blue pruinosed abdomen, and pale coloured antehumeral shoulder stripes on a chestnut brown thorax. Yellow spots are usually visible through the pruinosity on the lateral surface of the abdomen, especially noticeable from the side. Before becoming pruinosed, the immature male resembles the female.

The female is more yellow ochre, darkening with age and sometimes gaining some pruinosity. The yellow abdominal spots are larger in the female and very prominent. The dark tip extends further along the abdomen than in the male. The shape and colouring of the female may sometimes mean it’s mistaken for an oversized hornet.

Both male and female feature prominent chestnut brown basal wing patches, dark pterostigma, and chestnut brown eyes. At rest the wings are kept in a slightly forward and downward posture, but not as noticeably as in a Skimmer.

Overall length: 39 – 48 mm
Wings: 33 – 37 mm

The Broad-bodied Chaser or ‘BBC’ is one of our most colourful and distinctive dragonflies, and along with its very obvious wide abdomen, it is straightforward to rule out most other species.

There are a few Skimmer and Chaser species that might still be confused with the BBC.

  • Scarce Chaser – Libellula fulva
    The Scarce Chaser is much more slender, and only the hindwings feature basal wing patches and these are not as extensive as with the BBC. The male has a more extensively black tipped abdomen, but it lacks the yellow lateral spots of the Broad-bodied Chaser. The female is noticeably duller, and brown rather than yellow.
  • Black-tailed Skimmer – Orthetrum cancellatum
    The Black-tailed Skimmer is much more slender, the wings have yellow costa rather than dark and lack any basal wing patches, the eyes are green or green blue rather than brown. The male abdomen has a more obviously black tip, extending further up the abdomen. The female has prominent black abdominal markings that are absent in the BBC.
  • Keeled Skimmer – Orthetrum coerulescens
    The male is a possible confusion species owing to its pruinosed abdomen, but the Keeled Skimmer is much more slender in appearance and more Darter-like than the BBC. Its wings have yellow costa and pterostigma, and lack basal wing patches.

Favours still, shallow waters, ponds and lakes that aren’t too sheltered, rarely at rivers but may be found at overflow pools close by.

Often amongst the first dragonflies to colonise new ponds.

Common throughout the county, more often found singly or in small numbers at garden and woodland ponds.

Newly excavated ponds at Marston Thrift and its surrounds support a number of Broad-bodied Chasers, I see them often at Parkwood LNR at Clapham, and they are common at Sundon Chalk Quarry.

Visible between early May and late August, peaking in June.


External links for Broad-bodied Chaser – Libellula depressa:
British Dragonfly Society | Wikipedia

Broad-bodied Chaser - Libellula depressa. Male, Marston Thrift.
Male Broad-bodied Chaser – Libellula depressa
Broad-bodied Chaser - Libellula depressa. Female, Marston.
Female Broad-bodied Chaser – Libellula depressa