Dragonfly species in Monmouthshire: Hairy Dragonfly

Distribution map of Hairy Dragonfly in Monmouthshire, March 2024
Distribution map of Hairy Dragonfly in Monmouthshire, March 2024, produced using the DMAP for Windows software written by Alan Morton, www.dmap.co.uk

Hairy Dragonfly (Brachytron pratense) is a localised dragonfly in the county, almost entirely confined to the Gwent Levels.

The oldest record in our dataset is from Marshfield, on the western Gwent Levels, on an unspecified date in 1929 (observer F. Norton).

Current distribution in the county: what we know

The Gwent Levels hold a long-established population of Hairy Dragonfly. In the west, the species is widespread, occurring from Cors Crychydd reen northeast to Dufffryn. In the east, there is a strong population centred on the Newport Wetlands reserve, extending east to at least Redwick. There is then an apparent gap until it is found again around Magor Marsh. In 2023 it was found at Glan Llyn, on the east side of Newport.

Away from the Levels, there have been several recent sightings from the Allt-yr-yn area on the northern edge of Newport, and in 2022, a single male Hairy Dragonfly was found near Raglan by Tom Chinnick.

Current distribution in the county: what we don’t know

On the Levels, there are pre-2020 records from many sites, spread from the Rhymney in the west across to Rogiet in the east, where it has not been recorded recently. It is likely that the species is still present in at least some of these areas, and the lack of recent records is because no-one has visited sites in these areas recently to record dragonflies.

The Allt-yr-yn records may indicate that there is a population on Gwastad Mawr, the low-lying wet area just north of the M4 west of the Brynglas tunnels. Elsewhere in the county, searches early in the season will determine whether the 2022 Raglan individual was just a one-off wanderer from the Levels population, or if the species has started to spread northwards, as it has done in England.

Distribution elsewhere

Hairy Dragonfly is well-established in southern parts of all four South Wales coastal counties west to Pembrokeshire, and it extends inland along some river valleys, such as the Towy in Carmarthenshire. It also occurs at scattered localities on the west and north Wales coasts, with a strong population on Anglesey. It is absent from most of central Wales, but occurs at Llangorse Lake near Brecon. In England it is common in coastal counties from Dorset to Norfolk, and also in the east Midlands, with further populations centred on the Somerset Levels, Cheshire and southeast Yorkshire. It is localised in Scotland, occurring mainly in the southwest and on the west coast. Elsewhere in Europe, it occurs from Ireland and France east to Russia, north to southern Scandinavia and southern Finland, and more locally in the south from Italy to the Balkans and Greece. There are also small outlying populations in northern Iberia and Turkey.