Hairy Dragonfly – Brachytron pratense

European common name: Hairy Hawker

The Hairy Dragonfly – Brachytron pratense, is a tireless flier, and up close it’s very easy to see why it gets its name.



Mid-sized dragonfly, the smallest of Hawkers. Usually, the first dragonfly species to emerge each year. It is aptly named and has an obviously hairy thorax and abdomen. Not common in large numbers, single males can often be seen patrolling along bankside edges. Females are more elusive, shying away from the water until ready to breed.

The male from above has quite a dark appearance with the thorax and abdomen largely brown. Pairs of blue spots are present on each abdominal segment, one each side of the medial line, looking like irregular triangle or teardrop shapes. Yellow green antehumeral patches are prominent. The side of the thorax is mainly yellow green. The head is mainly yellow, with prominent blue eyes.

The female has a thicker and more robust abdomen, with yellow markings that are similar in pattern to the male, but rather smaller antehumeral patches. Eyes are chestnut brown.

In both sexes the wings are clear, with a long and thin pterostigma, and yellow costa. Appendages are especially long.

Overall length: 54 – 63 mm
Wings: 34 – 37 mm

The smallest Hawker dragonfly, usually the first to emerge and so not easily confused with other species.

  • Migrant Hawker – Aeshna mixta
    The Migrant Hawker male lacks yellow antehumeral stripes and has shorter and darker pterostigma. The female abdomen is lighter brown, with yellow spots on each segment that almost touch either side of the medial line. Both sexes have a prominent funnel shaped yellow ‘golf tee’ marking on segment 2, the abdomen is not hairy. Emerges later in the year, usually after the flight season of the Hairy Dragonfly.
  • Southern Hawker – Aeshna cyanea
    The Southern Hawker is noticeably larger, lacks yellow costa and the pterostigma is shorter and darker. Antehumeral shoulder stripes are broader and more prominent than in the Hairy Dragonfly. The male is brighter and greener in appearance, with pairs of green spots along the length of the abdomen, except for larger blue markings on segments 8, 9 and 10. The female is brighter and greener in appearance. Both sexes have broad markings across segments 9 and 10 that are not divided at the medial line, segment 2 has a more noticeable funnel shaped yellow ‘golf tee’ mark, and overall the abdomen is much less hairy.
  • Common Hawker – Aeshna juncea
    Similar in appearance though rather larger, but unlikely to be found in Bedfordshire.

Favours still water habitats, with lots of emergent vegetation, ponds and lakes.

Found throughout the county, but not in large numbers.

Reported at Felmersham NR, Priory CP, Bromham Lake NR, Marston Vale CP, Sandhouse Lane NR, and along the River Great Ouse especially at Roxton.

Visible between mid-April and late June – an early season dragonfly.

Hairy Dragonfly - Brachytron pratense Male, River Great Ouse at Roxton.
Male Hairy Dragonfly – Brachytron pratense
Hairy Dragonfly - Brachytron pratense Female, Marston.
Female Hairy Dragonfly – Brachytron pratense

External links for Hairy Dragonfly – Brachytron pratense:
British Dragonfly Society | Wikipedia