Sussex Dragonfly Group

Common Hawker (Common Aeshna)
Aeshna juncea (Linnaeus, 1758)
« Aeshna grandis | Aeshna mixta »

Suborder: Anisoptera
Family: Aeshnidae

Common Hawker
(Common Aeshna)
Aeshna juncea

Suborder: Anisoptera
Family: Aeshnidae

Despite its name, this is a rare dragonfly in Sussex. Possibly because of its ‘Common’ epithet, there have been a number of erroneous reports that have then confused the historical and recent status. This is not an easy species to identify not least because of its restless and unapproachable nature.

Aeshna juncea
1 / 4
teneral male
Photo: David Sadler
Aeshna juncea
2 / 4
male
Photo: David Sadler
Aeshna juncea
3 / 4
male
Photo: David Sadler
Aeshna juncea
4 / 4
male
Photo: David Sadler

National status
Within Britain, it is common in western England, Wales and Scotland.

Status in Sussex
See comments under ‘Historical records’. The true status of this species is confused by erroneous reports.

Distribution at 1km scale

Aeshna juncea distribution (all)
Aeshna juncea distribution pre 1980
Aeshna juncea distribution 1980 - 1989
Aeshna juncea distribution 1990 - 1999
Aeshna juncea distribution 2000 - 2009
Aeshna juncea distribution 2010 - 2019
Aeshna juncea distribution 2010 on

Historical records
Perhaps no species poses such an obvious challenge to present day recorders as the Common Hawker (Aeshna juncea). Although common in western England, Wales and Scotland, there are few reports from Sussex. Due to lack of suitable habitat Chelmick (1979) questioned the validity of a record in the 1930s at Arundel where it was claimed to be “not uncommon”. The 1965-1978 survey reported only two sites, both acid ponds bordering heathland in the extreme north-west of the county. Reports of the species in Hastings & East Sussex Naturalist for 1969, 1978-1981, 1985 and 1986 lack the details required now for RA70 recording forms. Blessed with the name of Common, it is perhaps not surprising that this species is frequently misidentified. The Dragonflies of Sussex (2004) noted that of the 15 records in the county at that point in time, only one has indicated any breeding behaviour, two ovipositing females at Forest Mere pond near Liphook noted by W. Merritt in 1975 (D. Chelmick pers. comm.).

Flight times
This species has been reported in Sussex between July and mid October. The BDS website gives the flight time as June - November.

Phenology (adult)

Aeshna juncea phenology (all)
Aeshna juncea phenology pre 1980
Aeshna juncea phenology 1980 - 1989
Aeshna juncea phenology 1990 - 1999
Aeshna juncea phenology 2000 - 2009
Aeshna juncea phenology 2010 - 2019
Aeshna juncea phenology 2010 on

Habitat
In moorland habitats with acidic pools. Sometimes seen hunting woodland rides at dusk ( BDS website).

Similar species
See Southern Hawker for a discussion of likely confusion species. Other commoner hawker species should be ruled out carefully before claiming this rare species in Sussex.

Despite its name, this is a rare dragonfly in Sussex. Possibly because of its ‘Common’ epithet, there have been a number of erroneous reports that have then confused the historical and recent status. This is not an easy species to identify not least because of its restless and unapproachable nature.

Aeshna juncea
1 / 4
teneral male
Photo: David Sadler
Aeshna juncea
2 / 4
male
Photo: David Sadler
Aeshna juncea
3 / 4
male
Photo: David Sadler
Aeshna juncea
4 / 4
male
Photo: David Sadler

National status
Within Britain, it is common in western England, Wales and Scotland.

Status in Sussex
See comments under ‘Historical records’. The true status of this species is confused by erroneous reports.

Distribution at 1km scale

Aeshna juncea distribution (all)
Aeshna juncea distribution bre 1980
Aeshna juncea distribution 1980 - 1989
Aeshna juncea distribution 1990 - 1999
Aeshna juncea distribution 2000 - 2009
Aeshna juncea distribution 2010 - 2019
Aeshna juncea distribution 2020 on

Historical records
Perhaps no species poses such an obvious challenge to present day recorders as the Common Hawker (Aeshna juncea). Although common in western England, Wales and Scotland, there are few reports from Sussex. Due to lack of suitable habitat Chelmick (1979) questioned the validity of a record in the 1930s at Arundel where it was claimed to be “not uncommon”. The 1965-1978 survey reported only two sites, both acid ponds bordering heathland in the extreme north-west of the county. Reports of the species in Hastings & East Sussex Naturalist for 1969, 1978-1981, 1985 and 1986 lack the details required now for RA70 recording forms. Blessed with the name of Common, it is perhaps not surprising that this species is frequently misidentified. The Dragonflies of Sussex (2004) noted that of the 15 records in the county at that point in time, only one has indicated any breeding behaviour, two ovipositing females at Forest Mere pond near Liphook noted by W. Merritt in 1975 (D. Chelmick pers. comm.).

Flight times
This species has been reported in Sussex between July and mid October. The BDS website gives the flight time as June - November.

Phenology (adult)

Aeshna juncea phenology (all)
Aeshna juncea phenology pre 1980
Aeshna juncea phenology 1980 - 1989
Aeshna juncea phenology 1990 - 1999
Aeshna juncea phenology 2000 - 2009
Aeshna juncea phenology 2010 - 2019
Aeshna juncea phenology 2020 on

Habitat
In moorland habitats with acidic pools. Sometimes seen hunting woodland rides at dusk ( BDS website).

Similar species
See Southern Hawker for a discussion of likely confusion species. Other commoner hawker species should be ruled out carefully before claiming this rare species in Sussex.