Hawkers and Similar Species

Choose which of the following most closely matches your specimen.

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Hawkers and Hairy Dragonfly

UK: 7 species

Choose carefully: many of these are similar 

Southern Hawker

Distribution: common and spreading.

Both: large shoulder stripes and 'tail' stripes. Yellow triangle at top of abdomen.

Male: black with green spots and blue tail stripe.

Female: brown with green dots and green tail stripes.

Flight Period: June to October





Migrant Hawker

Distribution: common in southern England. Spreading.

Both: yellow triangle at top of abdomen with a thick blue band under the triangle, but a brown band above. Small to no shoulder stripes.

Male: brown thorax, black abdomen with mostly blue markings.

Female: brown with yellow and black markings.

Flight Period: July to November

Hairy Dragonfly 

Distribution: Scarce and Local, increasing.

Both: a small hawker with a downy thorax and small shoulder stripes. Also, long brown wing spots and anal appendages. 

Male: black with blue markings and yellow/green shoulder stripes

Female: black with blue and yellow markings.

Flight Period: late March to July

Common Hawker

Distribution: widespread and common in north and west

Both: yellow front wing vein. Thicker thorax stripes but shoulder stripes variable in size.

Male: black with blue dots. A blue band above and below a trio of yellow triangles on the top of the abdomen.

Female: brown with yellow/green dots and yellow/green bands above and below a trio of yellow triangles at the top of the abdomen.

Azure Hawker 

Distribution: scarce and local in Scotland. 

Both: thin stripes on thorax and brown front wing vein.

Male: black with extensive blue markings and tiny shoulder stripes.

Female: brown and yellow/green or blue with no shoulder stripes.

Brown Hawker

Distribution: widespread and common

Both: brown body, wings and eyes 

Male: small blue markings

Female: small yellow or blue markings

Flight Period: June to October


Norfolk Hawker

Distribution: endangered. In South-east England.

Both: brown with a yellow triangle on S2 and bright green eyes.Wings clear other than a small orange suffusion at base.

Flight Period: May to July


Golden-ringed Dragonfly

A black body with gold rings and green eyes. UK: 1 species

Common Clubtail

A black body with green or yellow markings. UK: 1 species


Variously coloured but always with a black mid-line stripe on the abdomen. UK: 1 species (plus 2 migrants)

Emperor Dragonfly

Distribution: common and Widespread in south. Scarce in north but increasing.

Both: Green thorax with black mid-line stripe on the abdomen

Male: Blue abdomen

Female: dull green, sometimes blue, abdomen

Flight Period: May to October





Lesser Emperor

Distribution: migrant - attempted breeding

Both: violet-brown thorax. Abdomen with a black mid-line stripe.

Male: bright blue 'saddle'. Waisted. Abdomen olive-brown or dull blue-green

Female: blue 'saddle'. Abdomen usually duller than male, but not always.

Flight Period: May to September


Images from top, left - right: both: David Kitching, both: David Kitching, Mark Tyrell, David Kitching, both: David Kitching, Erland R.N., Dave Ashton, Paul Appleyard, Graham Bayliss, Santiago Monteagudo Campos, Damian Pinguey, David Kitching, David Kitching, David Kitching, Dennis Swaby, Pablo M-Darve, Greg Osborn