The Southern Hawker – Aeshna cyanea, is an abundant and easy to spot dragonfly. It’s a tireless and agile flier that seldom settles for long.
A large and colourful dragonfly, usually seen singly. They are ceaseless fliers, hawing along hedgerows and treelines seemingly endlessly, but they can be quite curious of people and will often hover close by to investigate.
Males have a generally dark brown thorax and abdomen that is patterned with blue and apple green markings. The sides of the thorax are green, and the upper surface of the thorax has a pair of broad green antehumeral patches. The abdomen has pairs of green spots on the dorsal surface of each segment, except segments 8, 9 & 10 which have blue spots. S9 and 10 are single spots that are not separated down the medial line like the rest of the abdominal markings. Blue spots run down the lateral line of each abdominal segment. The eyes are blue from above and yellow below and appear spotted.
The female is similar in appearance to the male, but with all green spots rather than blue and has a noticeably stouter abdomen. The eyes are light brown from above and yellow below and appear spotted.
Both sexes have a yellow funnel shaped ‘golf tee’ marking on the second segment of the abdomen. The wings are clear, with thin pterostigma that appear darker on the male, and costa that is a lighter brown colour than the body. The frons is yellow.
Overall length: 67 – 76 mm
Wings: 43 – 51 mm
A large, colourful, and distinctive dragonfly, but possibly mistaken for other species.
Prefers woodland pools, ponds and lakes with plenty of surrounding trees and hedges.
Often seen late in the day away from water hawking along clearings in search of food. Also a common visitor to garden ponds.
Widespread and found throughout the county, but not usually seen collectively in large numbers.
I’ve mostly encountered them in wooded areas such as Felmersham NR, Marston Thrift, Priory CP.
Visible from mid-June to October, peaking in August.
External links for Southern Hawker – Aeshna cyanea:
British Dragonfly Society | Wikipedia