A large colourful dragonfly, where the males are blackish with blue and apple-green markings, and where the females have dark brown and green patterning. Both sexes have broad coloured stripes on the top and sides of the thorax, and a narrow yellow triangle on the second abdominal segment. They also have coloured bands across the last two abdominal segments instead of paired dots as in other hawkers which aid in identification. Body length 70mm. Forewing up to 50mm.
The eggs are laid in decaying vegetation or rotting wood, often above water level. They hatch the following spring, and the adults emerge two to three years later. The larvae are quite aggressive predators eating other aquatic invertebrates and even tadpoles.
Flies July to September. Found in a wide range of places where there is non-acidic water, including garden ponds. The adults are often found resting on vegetation. Common and widespread in the south of Britain, scarce elsewhere.
Photograph taken August 2007, local woodland margin, Staffordshire.