Hairy dragonfly

Hairy Dragonfly

©David Martin

Hairy dragonfly

Scientific name: Brachytron pratense
The UK's smallest hawker, the Hairy dragonfly is mostly black in colour, but has a distinctively hairy thorax. It can be found in grazing marshes and flooded gravel pits, and along canals from spring.

Species information


Length: 5.5cm

Conservation status


When to see

May to July


The Hairy dragonfly is a medium-sized hawker found around waterbodies with plenty of different plants; ditches in grazing marshes, gravel pits and canals are particularly good spots to look for this species. The earliest dragonfly to emerge in the UK, it is on the wing from May to July. Hawkers are the largest and fastest flying dragonflies. They catch their insect-prey mid-air and can hover and fly backwards.

How to identify

The UK's smallest hawker, Hairy dragonfly is mostly black in colour. The male has pale blue, pear-shaped spots all along the body, blue eyes and broad, lime-green patches on the thorax. The female has yellowish spots and brownish eyes. If seen well, the short hairs all over the body make the Hairy dragonfly unmistakeable.


Found in small pockets of Southern and Eastern England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Did you know?

The Hairy dragonfly was, until recently, a very rare species in the UK, found only on the most pristine grazing marshes and wetlands. It has recently expanded its range, possibly as a result of climate change.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts manage many wetland nature reserves for the benefit of the wildlife they support. You can help by supporting your local Trust and becoming a member; you'll find out about exciting wildlife news, events on your doorstep and volunteering opportunities, and will be helping local wildlife along the way. Encourage dragonflies and damselflies into your garden by having a wildlife-friendly pond. To find out more about gardening for wildlife, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.