Scarce Chaser – Libellula fulva

European common name: Blue Chaser

The Scarce Chaser – Libellula fulva, is a mid-sized dragonfly that undergoes striking colour changes during its life.


LibellulidaeChasers, Skimmers, & Darters

A mid-sized dragonfly that is uncommon but can be abundant at some locations. Its mass emergence is spectacular, and the immature male and female’s appearance is far more striking than the adult.

As immature dragonflies the male and female are alike and are very distinctive, with a bright orange yellow body with a prominent dark dorsal stripe along the medial line of the abdomen. Eyes are chestnut brown. The wings feature vivid orange venation from the base to the node, dark basal wing patches, and dark pterostigma. Some individuals also have dark spots at the wing tips.

Both sexes lose their vivid colouring and orange venation as they mature.

Males develop a pale blue pruinescence on their abdomen as they mature, covering the dorsal surface except for the tip, which remains black. The eyes become grey or pale blue in colour.

The female darkens with age, eventually turning brown, the eyes also darken and become greyer.

Overall length: 42 – 45 mm
Wings: 32 – 38 mm

Immature Scarce Chasers are unlikely to be mistaken for any other species, but mature adults may be confused with several other Skimmer and Chasers.

  • Broad-bodied Chaser – Libellula depressa
    The Broad-bodied Chaser has a more obviously broad body and features prominent basal wing patches on all four wings, and dark brown eyes. The male has a much less noticeable black tip to the abdomen, and the female is more yellow overall, with bright yellow abdominal markings.
  • Four-spotted Chaser – Libellula quadrimaculata
    Only the Four-spotted Chaser females are similar but are easily told apart by their diagnostic wing patterns, yellow abdominal spots and dark eyes.
  • Black-tailed Skimmer – Orthetrum cancellatum
    Only males are similar, but the wings lack basal patches and have yellow costa. The thorax is lighter in colour and overall the Black-tailed Skimmer has a brighter appearance and is longer and more narrow.
  • Keeled Skimmer – Orthetrum coerulescens
    The male is a possible confusion species owing to its pruinosed abdomen, but the Keeled Skimmer lacks a black tip to the abdomen, and is much more slender in appearance and more Darter-like than the Scarce Chaser. Its wings have yellow costa and lack basal wing patches.

Favours slow rivers, but also found at still water sites. Surrounding water meadows and areas of dense vegetation are important as hunting grounds, and tall vegetation is preferred for basking and guarding territory.

Previously restricted to a few sites in the north-east of the county at Wyboston, but now extending its range. It is locally common along the River Great Ouse between Roxton and Kempston. There have been reported sightings at The Lodge in Sandy, home of the RSPB, and also at Felmersham NR.

Visible mid-May to late July, peaking in June.

Scarce Chaser - Libellula fulva Immature, River Great Ouse, Roxton.
Immature Scarce Chaser – Libellula fulva
Scarce Chaser - Libellula fulva Male, River Great Ouse, Roxton. Post copulation marks are clearly visible on the abdomen.
Mature Male Scarce Chaser – Libellula fulva

External links for Scarce Chaser – Libellula fulva:
British Dragonfly Society | Wikipedia