Friday, 3 October 2014

Hawker ID Challenge!

I made a visit over to Nethergong Campsite this afternoon where after speaking to the owners I drove around to the small pool which has been very good for dragonflies this year. It was only a few weeks ago that I was here with the family and they were happily pond dipping and catching lots of dragonfly larvae so I thought I would take along the camera gear and see if I could catch any and get a few photos. After setting up I started dipping the net and it wasn't long until I started to catch a few 'Hawker' larvae, their torpedo shape being the main give away. I caught a few of different sizes and after putting them in some clear pots I set about trying to id them and get a few photos. I am quite new to this sort of identification and a lot of Hawker larvae look very similar. I have seen Migrant, Southern, Brown and Emperor around this pool this year so it must be one of them. After looking at a few books and photos I think the shots below may be of a Brown Hawker? One diagnostic feature they show is banding on the legs which this shows quite well in the photos but I would appreciate any help with them and please correct me if I am wrong.

Migrant Hawker Larvae

After taking more shots I looked what else I had in the tank and noticed a smaller, leaner and darker Hawker larvae. Again I took a few shots and believe this may be a Hairy Dragonfly, a species I did not see here this year as my visits didn't start until their season was over. The eyes are considerably smaller, again a feature I believe of Hairy. I took a few shots before putting them back in the tank.

Hairy Dragonfly Larvae

I spent the next hour with my plastic tank and a few larvae in there trying to get some shots of them in the water. A few sticks attracted them and I took a number of shots, some not too bad. I will have to invest in some proper gear for this type of photography but it was fun trying anyway and a good education into trying to id these tricky larvae. It was certainly interesting watching them in the water and noting their behaviour when they met each other sometimes. I shall post some shots in the tank tomorrow. Again if I have not correctly identified them, please feel free to point me in the right direction. Many thanks to Greenie for helping with the id of the Migrant Hawker larvae.


  1. Marc ,
    I would agree with your Hairy Dragonfly ID , the small eyes , less than half the length of the head says yes for me . It should
    also have a dorsal spine on abdominal segment 9 .
    The other one I would say is Migrant Hawker . I can see where you are coming from with the banded legs , but looking at
    specimens in my collection , the BH's legs are more boldly banded . The deal sealer for me is the lateral spines on abdominal
    segment 9 , which reaches the start of segment 10 . The same spines on the BH only reach half way down to the start of 10 .
    Not showing in the shots , the labium , the tooth shaped hinged flap , on the underside of the head , used to grab prey in
    flight , would be wide on the BH and narrow on the MH .
    Nice clear shots .

    1. Greenie
      Many thanks for your help. Greatly appreciated, you know your stuff.

    2. Emperor Dragonfly has been mentioned. The huge rounded head and less bulbous eyes. What do you think?

    3. Marc ,
      I must bow to the Emperor Dragonfly ID .
      The lateral spines that led me to MH still stand , but the area behind the eye being parallel
      to the back of the head , I should have noticed .

  2. The larvae are superb Marc, you know your camera.

  3. Nice shots. Ill have to make an effort to go find some hairy dragonfly nymphs myself :)