Dragonflies of Andalusia

Southern species exclusive within Europe – an invitation to complete your field guide.

22 damselflies

40 dragonflies

SW Paleartic endemics in running waters 

Generalist ‘African’ species in stil waters

Numerous ‘specialties’

Diversity of behaviours

Check-list dragonflies of Andalusia

Dragonflies or odonates are insects with elongated and often vividly colored bodies, endowed with two pairs of large wings and bulky eyes, which patrol the aquatic environments on hot days like no other insect … The larvae are aquatic and provided with a prehensile “mask” to capture its prey.

Andalusia has 62 species of odonates, being the Iberian bluetail (Ischnura graellsii), an Iberian endemism that extends slightly in France, the most common species in the entire peninsula.

Andalusia is also the gateway to the African species that colonize Europe. We can mention the violet dropwing (Trithemis annulata) and the orange-winged dropwing (Trithemis kirbyi), two species with spectacular colors and easy to observe.

Colonization start

African (or Asiatic*) species

2007 Trithemis kirbyi
1978 Trithemis annulata
1966 Orthetrum trinacria
 1957, 1961 Brachythemis impartita
1904, 1935, 1942 Diplacodes lefebvrii 
Presence detected in the 19th century, distribution restricted to the Iberian Peninsula in Europe Sympetrum sinaiticum
Paragomphus genei
Orthetrum chrysostigma
Selysiothemis nigra*
Zygonyx torridus
Presence detected in the 19th century, wide distribution in Europe Anax imperator
Anax ephippiger
Crocothemis erythraea
Sympetrum fonscolombii
Dragonflies of Andalusia: Epaulet skimmer

Dragonflies of Andalusia: pair of Epaulet skimmer (Orthetrum chrysostigma), a very common species at South Iberian streams.

The Iberian bluetail (Ischnura graellsii)

The Iberian bluetail (Ischnura graellsii), one of the most frequent species of the Iberian Peninsula and almost endemic to this territory.

Andalusia is one of the most popular European destinations to observe odonata.

large pincertail (Onychogomphus uncatus)

A large pincertail (Onychogomphus uncatus) that has just emerged on an Andalusian river.

Western spectre (Boyeria irene) exuvia

Western spectre (Boyeria irene) exuvia, easy to find and to identify in the field, especially at well preserved low-mountain streams.

In the European context, the Iberian Peninsula, and in particular Andalusia, is home to large populations of odonates of ordinary continual waters, the most sensitive to pollution. Also keep in mind that the Genal and Hozgarganta rivers are reputed to be the last wild rivers of Andalusia and the streams of the Costa del Sol that house an exceptional aquatic biodiversity.

The area is home to streams characterized by their low flow and very mild water temperatures, very favorable conditions for species specialized in lotic ecosystems: copper demoiselle (Calopteryx haemorrhoidalis), orange Featherleg (Platycnemis acutipennis), western spectre (Boyeria irene), three species of Gomphus and three species of Onychogomphus. More rare and endangered: the orange-spotted emerald (Oxygastra curtisii) and the splendid cruiser (Macromia splendens), the latter being difficult to observe due to its behavior. Add ponds and lagoons that offer a habitat and a variety of different species.

Other species, present in the sector and whose distribution is limited in Europe (and even within Spain) are: ringed cascader (Zygonyx torridus), black percher (Diplacodes lefebvrii), faded pincertail (Onychogomphus costae), common hooktail (Paragomphus genei), epaulet skimmer (Orthetrum chrysostigma), yellow-Veined skimmer (Orthetrum nitidinerve), long skimmer (Orthetrum trinacria), desert darter (Sympetrum sinaiticum), northern banded groundling (Brachythemys impartita), black pennant (Selysiothemis nigra). These species are often restricted to specific localities and habitats, which can hinder their sightings.

Running waters

Habitat of “lotic” species (e.g. gomphids, demoiselles) typical of streams and rivers with fast flowing waters (cold temperatures, high oxygen) and which larvae hidde within gravels substrate or under stones and often developpe over various years.

Slow flowing waters

Habitat of dragonflies more typical of shallow running waters (skimmers, coenagrionids damselflies), which larvae are less adapted to resist fast currents. Biotopes often with presence of aquatic vegetation, high oxygen and cool temperatures. Special cases: Splendid cruiser (Macromia splendens) found shelter at large permanent pools within mediterranean rivers ; Faded pincertail (Onychogomphus costae) lives in the largest Andalusian rivers.

Still waters

Species (darters, hawkers) inhabiting basins without water flow (ponds, lagoons), with preferences either for permanent, semi-permanent or temporary waters, depending on larval growth and colonisation. 

Opportunistic species

Dragonflies prefering still waters (libellulids), although their very strong colonization potential and short larval development allow them to occupy a broad range of habitats, for example slow flowing section of streams. 

Libélulas de Andalucía

Dragonflies:list of species present in Andalusia







Common name

Identification (adult male)

Main distribution

Prefered habitat

IUCN Andalucia (2008)

1 Zygoptera Calopterygidae Calopteryx haemorrhoidalis Copper demoiselle  Unmistakable SW Palearctic Running waters
2  – Calopterygidae Calopteryx virgo meridionalis Beautiful demoiselle
 Unmistakable SW Palearctic
Running waters
3  – Calopterygidae Calopteryx xanthostoma Western demoiselle
 Unmistakable Iberia, France Running waters VU
4  – Coenagrionidae Ceriagrion tenellum Small red damsel  Easy Palearctic Slow flowing waters
5  – Coenagrionidae Coenagrion caerulescens Mediterranean bluet  Tricky SW Palearctic Slow flowing waters VU
6  – Coenagrionidae Coenagrion mercuriale Mercury bluet  Tricky SW Palearctic Slow flowing waters VU
7  – Coenagrionidae Coenagrion puella Azure bluet
 Tricky Palearctic Still waters EXT? VU
8  – Coenagrionidae Coenagrion scitulum Dainty bluet Tricky Palearctic Still waters VU
9  – Coenagrionidae Enallagma cyathigerum Common bluet  Tricky Palearctic Still waters
10  – Coenagrionidae Erythromma lindenii Blue-eye  Easy Palearctic Opportunistic
11  – Coenagrionidae Erythromma viridulum Small Redeye  Easy Palearctic Still waters
12  – Coenagrionidae Ischnura graellsii Iberian bluetail
 Easy Iberia, Maghreb Opportunistic
13  – Coenagrionidae Ischnura pumilio Small bluetail
 Tricky Palearctic Still waters
14  – Coenagrionidae Pyrrhosoma nymphula Large red damsel  Easy Palearctic Slow flowing waters
15  – Lestidae Chalcolestes viridis Willow spreadwing
 Easy W Palearctic
16  – Lestidae Lestes barbarus Migrant spreadwing
 Tricky Palearctic Still waters
17  – Lestidae Lestes dryas Robust spreadwing  Tricky Palearctic, Nearctic Still waters VU
18  – Lestidae Lestes macrostigma Dark spreadwing  Unmistakable Palearctic Still waters VU
19  – Lestidae Lestes virens virens Small spreadwing
 Tricky Palearctic Still waters
20  – Lestidae Sympecma fusca Common winter damsel  Unmistakable Palearctic Opportunistic
21  – Platycnemididae Platycnemis acutipennis Orange featherleg Unmistakable Iberia, France Slow flowing waters
22  – Platycnemididae Platycnemis latipes White featherleg  Unmistakable Iberia, France Opportunistic
23 Anisoptera Aeshnidae Aeshna affinis Blue-eyed hawker  Tricky Palearctic Still waters DD
24  – Aeshnidae Aeshna cyanea Blue hawker  Easy Palearctic Still waters
25  – Aeshnidae Aeshna isoceles Green-eyed hawker  Unmistakable Palearctic Still waters EXT? VU
26  – Aeshnidae Aeshna mixta Migrant hawker  Tricky Palearctic Still waters
27  – Aeshnidae Anax ephippiger Vagrant Emperor  Easy Africa Still waters
28  – Aeshnidae Anax imperator Blue Emperor  Easy Africa, Palearctic Opportunistic
29  – Aeshnidae Anax parthenope Lesser Emperor  Easy Palearctic, Indomalaya Opportunistic
30  – Aeshnidae Boyeria irene Western spectre  Unmistakable SW Palearctic Running waters
31  – Aeshnidae Brachytron pratense Hairy dragonfly  Easy Palearctic Still waters EXT? EN
32  – Cordulegastridae Cordulegaster boltonii Common goldenring  Easy Palearctic Running waters
33  – Macromiidae Macromia splendens Splendid cruiser  Easy Iberia, France Slow flowing waters CR
34  – Corduliidae Oxygastra curtisii Orange-spotted emerald  Unmistakable SW Palearctic Slow flowing waters EN
35  – Gomphidae Gomphus graslinii Pronged clubtail  Tricky Iberia, France Running waters EN
36  – Gomphidae Gomphus pulchellus Western clubtail  Tricky SW Palearctic Still waters
37  – Gomphidae Gomphus simillimus
Yellow clubtail  Tricky SW Palearctic Running waters VU
38  – Gomphidae Onychogomphus costae Faded pincertail  Unmistakable Iberia, Maghreb Slow flowing waters
39  – Gomphidae Onychogomphus forcipatus unguiculatus Small pincertail  Tricky Palearctic Running waters
40  – Gomphidae Onychogomphus uncatus Large pincertail Tricky SW Palearctic Running waters DD
41  – Gomphidae Paragomphus genei Green hooktail  Unmistakable Africa Slow flowing waters
42  – Libellulidae Brachythemis impartita Northern banded groundling  Unmistakable Africa Still waters
43  – Libellulidae Crocothemis erythraea Broad scarlet  Easy Africa, Palearctic, Indomalaya Opportunistic
44  – Libellulidae Diplacodes lefebvrii Black percher  Tricky Africa, Indomalaya Still waters
45  – Libellulidae Libellula depressa Broad-bodied chaser  Unmistakable Palearctic Still waters
46  – Libellulidae Libellula fulva Blue chaser  Easy Palearctic Still waters EXT?
47  – Libellulidae Libellula quadrimaculata Four-spotted chaser  Unmistakable Nearctic, Palearctic Still waters DD
48  – Libellulidae Orthetrum brunneum Southern skimmer  Tricky Palearctic Slow flowing waters
49  – Libellulidae Orthetrum cancellatum Black-tailed skimmer  Unmistakable Palearctic Still waters
50  – Libellulidae Orthetrum chrysostigma Epaulet skimmer  Easy Africa, Iberia, Turkey Slow flowing waters
51  – Libellulidae Orthetrum coerulescens Keeled skimmer  Tricky Palearctic Slow flowing waters
52  – Libellulidae Orthetrum nitidinerve Yellow-veined skimmer  Easy Iberia, Maghreb, Sicilia, Sardinia Slow flowing waters VU
53  – Libellulidae Orthetrum trinacria Long skimmer  Easy Africa, SW Asia Still waters
54  – Libellulidae Selysiothemis nigra Black pennant  Tricky Asia, Mediterranean Still waters
55  – Libellulidae Sympetrum fonscolombii Red-veined darter  Easy Africa, Asia, Palearctic Still waters
56  – Libellulidae Sympetrum meridionale Southern darter  Tricky Palearctic Still waters
57  – Libellulidae Sympetrum sanguineum Ruddy darter  Tricky Palearctic Still waters
58  – Libellulidae Sympetrum sinaiticum Desert darter  Tricky Mediterranean Slow flowing waters
59  – Libellulidae Sympetrum striolatum Common darter  Tricky Palearctic Opportunistic
60  – Libellulidae Trithemis annulata Violet dropwing  Unmistakable Africa Opportunistic
61  – Libellulidae Trithemis kirbyi Orange-winged dropwing  Unmistakable Africa Opportunistic
62  – Libellulidae Zygonyx torridus Ringed cascader  Easy Africa Running waters VU



IUCN: Extinction risk. LR: Lower Risk. NT: Near Threathened. VU: Vulnerable. EN: Endangered. EX: Extinct.


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