Species: Southern Hawker (Aeshna cyanea)

Family: Hawkers (AESHNIDAE)

Category: Insects (Other)

Location: One Sighting

A. Insects (Other)

More extensive information on insects can be found in a separate blog post.

B. Hawkers (AESHNIDAE)

In Britain, just 38 species of dragonfly and damselfly breed. The Hawker family of dragonflies consists of around eleven different species in Britain. These are the largest dragonflies that we see.

As with other dragonflies, Hawkers mate in flight, and females deposit their eggs in or close to water. The larvae that develop are fearsome aquatic predators that are carnivores that feed on insects and sometimes fish. As the larvae develop into adults (underwater), they moult, shedding their outer skin up to a dozen or more times. The final moult takes place out of water. In some species of dragonfly, this process can take a year or two, depending upon the temperature of the water and the scarcity or abundance of food.

C. Southern Hawker (Aeshna cyanea)

The Southern Hawker is a large, stocky and inquisitive dragonfly. Males are dark with blue and green markings. Females are brown with green markings. They have become increasingly common in southern England and in Wales.

These dragonflies breed in water, even in small ponds, yet they are found some distance from water, dashing back and forth, hunting for food. Their diet consists of flying insects such as midges, mosquitoes and flies.

They are about 7 centimetres long, and show a certain boldness in flying near to people to inspect these 'intruders'.

Images

Southern Hawker

The Southern Hawker is a large, stocky and inquisitive dragonfly.

The individual photographed here, resting on a Yew tree in late July 2023, is a male.

(Photo credit: David Campbell.)