Hairy dragonfly

Brachytron pratense

The hairy dragonfly is mostly black in colour, however, if observed from a close distance, the male can be seen to have paired blue, pear-shaped spots all along the abdomen (lower body), blue eyes and broad, lime-green patches on the thorax (upper body). The female has paired pale yellow spots and brownish eyes. Unlike other hawkers, the hairy dragonfly has short hairs all over the thorax, making it unmistakeable. 

There are three stages in the life-cycle of a dragonfly: egg, larvae/nymph, and adult. Eggs are inserted into plant material and hatch after 3-4 weeks. The aquatic larvae are very difficult to find and take around two years to develop into adults.

Dragonflies are fascinating to watch, and have remarkable flying skills. Male hairy dragonflies typically have a low-level zigzagging flight in and out of vegetation; the females are more secretive and often rest in the sun on leaves.

What they eat

Dragonflies are opportunistic feeders, taking whatever suitable prey they can find. They catch their insect prey mid-air.

Where and when to see them

  • Found near unpolluted, well vegetated water bodies, although linear sites such as ditches, lodes, reens, dykes and canals are often favoured.

  • Start looking early in the season. This species emerges before other Hawker dragonflies in May (occasionally earlier), but can be seen flying through until July. Males are territorial and patrol small areas over open water.

  • Search for dragonflies when the weather is fine! Both sexes of the hairy dragonfly are only active during warm sunny weather, and will rest if cloudy.

View a hairy dragonfly 10km distribution map of Wales

Take care near waterbodies!