Description male female larva Irish distribution

Somatochlora arctica

Somatochlora arctica (Zetterstedt, 1840)


Common name: Northern Emerald

Preferred environment: small, oligotrophic pools in blanket bog and open woodland.

Flight period: Extended from late May to early September according to locality. In Ireland the majority of the few records have been in July.

Adult habitat and habits: males patrol over habitat at low height, investigating other dragonflies. Aggressive encounters occur with other males and other species. Females encountered are grasped and pair fly in tandem to mate on perch.

Oviposition site and behaviour: Females oviposit alone, washing eggs off abdomen by dipping it into small patches of open water amongst mosses.

Larval habitat and habits: Larvae are found at low density in shallow water in small Sphagnum filled pools. Minimum of 2 year development.

Emergence behaviour: Emergence recorded in morning on stems of low plants including Eriophorum spp. close to breeding sites.

Range: northern Europe and Asia to Kamchatka and Japan. In central Europe confined to mountainous areas as far south as the Alps and Pyrenees. Confined to just a few localities in the Killarney area especially on the south side of the Upper Lake and Galway's River valley.

Determination of adults: species is keyed and male abdominal appendages are figured in Askew (1988). Mature adults are illustrated in colour in Askew (1988) and Brooks (1997).

Determination of larvae: keys to mature larvae in Askew (1988) and Brooks (1997). Photograph of mature larva in Brooks (1997).


Nelson, B., Thompson, R. & Morrow, C., 2000 (May 2). [In] DragonflyIreland http://www.ulstermuseum.org.uk/dragonflyireland/


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