Hairy Hawker (Brachytron pratense)
(1/200th sec at f14. Approx 1.5x lifesize. Click image for larger version. © David Hastings)
(1/200th sec at f9. Approx 1.5x lifesize. Click image for larger version. © David Hastings)
(1/250th sec at f10. Approx 1x lifesize. Click image for larger version. © David Hastings)
Wingspan: 64 - 74 mm; Body length: 54 - 63 mm
The smallest British aeshnid, emerging before other species in late April and May. It has a distinctly hairy thorax, oval spots on each abdominal segment and a long, thin pterostigma. The male is dark in appearence and the spots on the abdomen are blue. It has green ante-humeral stripes. The female has yellow markings and much shorter ante-humeral stripes.
It is mainly found in the south-east of England and in most of Ireland. It is increasing its range in England.
It is found along ditches, canals, ponds and lakes with still or very slow-flowing water, and diverse and abundant fringing emergent vegetation.
Eggs are laid into floating, decomposing vegetation and hatch after 3-4 weeks. They usually develop over two or three years. The main flight period is May and June.
Males patrol territories at low level through and alongside emergent vegetation, searching for females. The female is rather secretive, only visiting water to find a mate or lay eggs.
A scarce and local species.