Dragonflies: Austroaeschna unicornis

Damselflies Austroagrion cyane Austroagrion watsoni Austroargiolestes calcaris Austrocnemis splendida Austrolestes annulosus Austrolestes aridus Austrolestes cingulatus Austrolestes io Austrolestes leda Austrolestes psyche Coenagrion lyelli Hemiphlebia mirabilis Ischnura aurora Ischnura heterosticta Pseudagrion microcephalum Xanthagrion erythroneurum Dragonflies Anax papuensis Archaeosynthemis orientalis Austroaeschna ingrid Austroaeschna multipunctata Austroaeschna unicornis Austrogomphus guerini Austropetalia tonyana Austrothemis nigrescens Crocothemis nigrifrons Dendroaeschna conspersa Diplacodes bipunctata Diplacodes haematodes Diplacodes melanopsis Diplacodes trivialis Eusynthemis virgula Hemicordulia australiae Hemicordulia tau Notoaeschna sagittata Orthetrum caledonicum Parasynthemis regina Petalura gigantea Procordulia jacksoniensis Synthemis eustalacta Telephlebia brevicauda
distribution map
Source: ALA

♂ Avon River, VIC

♀ Wonga Park, VIC

♂ Avon River, VIC

♂ Beaconsfield, VIC

♀ Aberfeldy, VIC
Common NameUnicorn Darner
Genus/SpeciesAustroaeschna (Austroaeschna) unicornis (Martin, 1901)
Abundance &
Common along mountain and coastal regions of eastern Australia from Brisbane to Melbourne and throughout Tasmania. Recorded as far west as Port Augusta in South Australia. A. unicornis does not occur north of the Mackay region and the records on ALA around Cairns are almost certainly misidentified and should probably be Austroaeschna speciosa, which used to be considered a subspecies of A. unicornis but these records are from before that time. There are two records from Mackay/Eungella in Queensland for which I am currently seeking confirmation as these are over 400km north of their known range.
HabitatInhabit streams and rivers at all altitudes.
DescriptionThis is a large, brown dragonfly with yellow markings on the thorax and abdomen (and some black). The patterns on the side of the thorax, and sometimes the male appendages, are helpful to try and separate these from the numerous similar species.
Similar SpeciesAustroaeschna speciosa occurs only around Cairns where A. unicornis is not found.
Austroaeschna pinheyi is only found in the Carnarvon Range area in central Queensland, although A. unicornis occurs there too.
Austroaeschna cooloola occurs around Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
Austroaeschna inermis is uncommon in south eastern Australia and its range lies completely within that of A. unicornis.
Behaviour &
I've watched males fly back and forth, fairly low over slow sections of rivers, occasionally hovering briefly. Eggs are deposited on fallen timber in water, as can be seen in the photo to the right. Around Melbourne they can usually be found near lowland rivers during summer and early autumn.
LinksBrisbane Insects
Girraween National Park

Page Updated: 28-Jun-2016
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