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Unicorn Darner Dragonfly - Austroaeschna unicornis

FAMILY TELEPHEBIIDAE 

This page contains information and pictures about Unicorn Darner Dragonflies that we found in the Brisbane area, Queensland, Australia. 

  
Female body length 50mm
This Unicorn Darner dragonfly is brightly blue in colour with black patterns on its thorax and abdomen. Its eyes are also in blue colour.
 
 
Female 
 
This dragonfly seems never rest, spend most of the time flying during the day. We are very lucky to have taken the above set of pictures when it perch on a leaf in the middle of the day, this is rarely happen for a Darner Dragonfly. Those pictures are taken near a pond along the Bulimba Creek in Wishart.
 
  wpeF.jpg (31853 bytes)
Male, body length 75mm 
 
The male Unicorn Darner is even larger. The dragonfly is dark brown in colour with greenish-yellow patterns. Notice its the angular hind wings base and the shape of its superior appendage (tail), tell that the dragonfly is a male. 
 
We saw the male Unicorn Darner at rest only two times. The first time was during  mid-summer day in the Yugarapul Park forest. The second time was in a semi-forest in Alexandra Hill. Every time it was heavily raining. We believed it was the heavy rain made the dragonfly rested on grass under thick tree covers. Usually, a Darner dragonfly will be flying or hovering during the day and hardly be seen resting. 
 
The dragonfly, as most other Darners, rested with body in vertical position. After we took a few pictures, the dragonfly did not tolerance our approaching and flied away slowly. 
 

 
We had wrongly identified the male Unicorn Darner as Austroaeschna pulchra, the Beautiful Forest Darner. Our visitor in Sydney sent us emails advised that this should be a male Unicorn Darner Austroaeschna unicornis. In here we would like to thank our Sydney visitor again (he preferred not mention his name). 
 
When we first took this male dragonfly pictures, we identified this dragonfly using the reference book "The Australian Dragonflies, Watson and Theischinger", we had suspected this green dragonfly could be an A. unicornis. But we had identified the female A. unicornis and they look quite different. 
 
Our Sydney visitor advised that "In regard to the differences in colour : As in most Austroaeschna species the colour of the pale markings on synthorax and abdomen vary from almost white to cream over blue and green to finally yellow depending on age and maybe other factors as well. Females are invariably shorter/stouter than males and usually also less colourful."

Reference:
1. The Australian Dragonflies - CSIRO, Watson, Theisinger & Abbey,1991, p184.
2. A Field Guide to Dragonflies of South East Queensland - Ric Nattrass, 2006, p55.
3. The Complete Field Guide to Dragonflies of Australia - CSIRO, GŁnther Theischinger and John Hawking, 2006, p124. 

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Last updated: May 11, 2007.