Interactive Australian Dragonfly Identification Key
IntroductionWelcome to the interactive identification key guide to the dragonflies and damselflies (odonata) of Australia. I developed this so that people trying to identify species could do so online and at least get a short-list of species.
Usage GuideAnswer as many of the questions to the left as you can and then submit the information for processing. You will receive weighted results of possible species. You may answer more than one question in any category (except region) and doing so may help return more relevant results. For example, if you saw a dragonfly with mostly yellow but also moderate black markings then you should select both colors.
Geographic RegionFor the insect distribution I have used the same geographic regions as The Complete Field Guide to Dragonflies of Australia (Theischinger and Hawking, 2006), which in-turn followed Watson et al. (1991). Although these regions are somewhat arbitrary they are "broadly based on ecological grounds ... for practical reasons."
HabitatDragonflies are aquatic insects — all but the last stage of their lives is in water — and most adults will typically spend significant time around water. For this you should select the most appropriate description of a nearby body of water with which you associate the dragonfly. If the observation was some distance from water then select "Other (Away from Water)".
ColorSelect the most significant color or colors of the insect.
WingsIf the dragonly was seen landed then specify how the wings were held whilst it was at rest. Most species will usually hold their wings one way or the other (ie. most dragonflies hold their wings open and most damsels hold their wings closed above their body).
Also specify if the wings had noticable markings on its wings. Note that all species have a small spot to the outside of the leading edge of each wing (called pterostigma) but if they have significant other markings then you should select this option.
Interpreting ResultsThis search engine uses a database that weighs up the inputs you provide and returns a ranked results list. These may have sample images and links to further information to help you confirm (or otherwise) the identification. I have sourced information from various publications including Identification Guide to the Australian Odonata (Theischinger and Endersby, 2009) (which, incidentally, is available as a PDF for download) as well as personal observations (for example Hemiphlebia mirabilis has since been discovered in south-east SA and Austroagrion cyane is known a few kilometres from the Victorian border so almost certainly will be found in that state too. Please note there is still much data entry required and many species will not yet be returned in a search.
Future EnhancementsI hope this enables you to identify your dragonfly quickly. As I am based in Victoria most of my observations have been around south-eastern Australia and as a result the data entry has been for species I am familiar with. As time goes bye I will enter more data.
In future I may add extra fields to help filtering species. I was thinking about adding an option for the estimation of "size" size but this can be very subjective as we don't walk around the bush with rulers and catch flying insects.
If you have any queries or comments then contact me.
Other UseYou are free to link to this page but please don't link directly to a results page from a static page (you may, for instance, link to results in a forum in answer to a question).
I am considering making the source code "open source", but this may have limited appeal as its not really that complicated and the back end only took me a couple of days. It can readily be adapted for other species (or indeed other things completely) as the structure is entirely contained in one CSV (with a couple of HTML template files).