Nature conservation

Threatened species

Giant Dragonfly - profile

Indicative distribution

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The areas shown in pink and/purple are the sub-regions where the species or community is known or predicted to occur. They may not occur thoughout the sub-region but may be restricted to certain areas. ( click here to see geographic restrictions). The information presented in this map is only indicative and may contain errors and omissions.
Scientific name: Petalura gigantea
Conservation status in NSW: Endangered
Commonwealth status: Not listed
Gazetted date: 30 Jan 1998
Profile last updated: 19 Apr 2023


The Giant Dragonfly is the third largest dragonfly in Australia and one of the largest dragonflies in the world. Males have an abdomen length of 6 - 7.5 cm, a wingspan up to 11 cm and petal-shaped claspers at the end of the abdomen. Females have an abdomen length of 8 - 9.5 cm and a wingspan up to 12.5 cm, and no claspers. Both sexes have widely-spaced eyes and have a predominantly brownish-black segmented body with light yellow markings along the back and sides. The larvae are also very large, up to 5 cm in length. When the dragonflies emerge from the larvae, they leave behind characteristics shells (exuviae).


The Giant Dragonfly is found along the east coast of NSW from the Victorian border to northern NSW. It is not found west of the Great Dividing Range. There are known occurrences in the Blue Mountains and Southern Highlands, in the Clarence River catchment, and on a few coastal swamps from north of Coffs Harbour to Nadgee in the south.

Habitat and ecology

  • Live in permanent swamps and bogs with some free water and open vegetation.
  • Adults emerge from late October and are short-lived, surviving for one summer after emergence.
  • Adults spend most of their time settled on low vegetation on or adjacent to the swamp. They hunt for flying insects over the swamp and along its margins.
  • Adults fly over the swamp and along its margins hunting for flying insects.
  • Males sometimes congregate waiting for females to mate with.
  • Females lay eggs into moss, under other soft ground layer vegetation, and into moist litter and humic soils, often associated with groundwater seepage areas within appropriate swamp and bog habitats. The species does not utilise areas of standing water wetland, although it may utilise suitable boggy areas adjacent to open water wetlands.
  • Larvae dig long branching burrows under the swamp. Larvae are slow growing and the larval stage may last 10 years or more.
  • It is thought that larvae leave their burrows at night and feed on insects and other invertebrates on the surface and also use underwater entrances to hunt for food in the aquatic vegetation.

Regional distribution and habitat

Click on a region below to view detailed distribution, habitat and vegetation information.


Recovery strategies

Activities to assist this species

Information sources

IBRA Bioregion IBRA Subregion Known or predicted Geographic restrictions region
New England TablelandsNortheast Forest Lands Known None
New England TablelandsStanthorpe Plateau Known None
New England TablelandsTenterfield Plateau Predicted None
NSW North CoastKaruah Manning Known None
NSW North CoastMacleay Hastings Known None
Other StateJervis Bay Territory Known None
South East CornerEast Gippsland Lowlands Known None
South Eastern HighlandsBungonia Predicted None
South Eastern HighlandsKanangra Known None
South Eastern HighlandsOberon Known None
South Eastern QueenslandClarence Sandstones Known None
South Eastern QueenslandScenic Rim Known None
Sydney BasinBurragorang Known None
Sydney BasinEttrema Known None
Sydney BasinJervis Known None
Sydney BasinKerrabee Predicted None
Sydney BasinMoss Vale Known None
Sydney BasinPittwater Known None
Sydney BasinSydney Cataract Known None
Sydney BasinWollemi Known None
Sydney BasinWyong Known None