Stream Hawker (Pinheyschna subpupillata)

View the above photo record (by Gert Bensch) in OdonataMAP here.

Find the Stream Hawker in the FBIS database (Freshwater Biodiversity Information System) here.

Family Aeschnidae

Pinheyschna subpupillata STREAM HAWKER


Large size

Length attains 64mm; Wingspan reaches 91mm.

Only likely to be mistaken for the females of other Hawkers, as they lack the blue markings of their respective males. These are Zosteraeschna minuscula (Friendly Hawker), Zosteraeschna usambarica (Forest Hawker) and Anaciaeschna triangulifera (Evening Hawker).

Both sexes of the Stream Hawker can be told apart from the above mentioned species by the diagnostic yellow patch with a central black dot on the forehead.

Click here for more details on identification of the Stream Hawker.

Pinheyschna subpupillata – Male
Lekgalameetse Nature Reserve, Limpopo
Photo by Vaughan Jessnitz


Inhabits streams and rivers. Favours fast flowing stretches with rocks and fringing vegetation like grass and bushes. Most often found in hilly or mountainous regions. Occurs in both open and more wooded environs. Occurs up to 2000m a.s.l. in some places.

Habitat – Mkhomazi Wilderness area, Drakensberg, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Ryan Tippett


An active, aerial species that spends most of its time on the wing. Patrols swiftly, back and forth along a chosen stretch of river. Periodically rests on nearby bushes or by clinging to the sides of boulders. Most often hangs vertically when at rest.

Status and Conservation

Fairly common. Listed as of Least Concern in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.


Near-Endemic to South Africa where it is found in mid to high altitude regions from the Western Cape to Limpopo. Also found in the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe and adjacent Mozambique.

Below is a map showing the distribution of records for Stream Hawker in the OdonataMAP database as at February 2020.

The next map below is an imputed map, produced by an interpolation algorithm, which attempts to generate a full distribution map from the partial information in the map above. This map will be improved by the submission of records to the OdonataMAP section of the Virtual Museum.

Ultimately, we will produce a series of maps for all the odonata species in the region. The current algorithm is a new algorithm. The objective is mainly to produce “smoothed” maps that could go into a field guide for odonata. This basic version of the algorithm (as mapped above) does not make use of “explanatory variables” (e.g. altitude, terrain roughness, presence of freshwater — we will be producing maps that take these variables into account soon). Currently, it only makes use of the OdonataMAP records for the species being mapped, as well as all the other records of all other species. The basic maps are “optimistic” and will generally show ranges to be larger than what they probably are.

These maps use the data in the OdonataMAP section of the Virtual Museum, and also the database assembled by the previous JRS funded project, which was led by Professor Michael Samways and Dr KD Dijkstra.

Dragonfly Atlas: Megan Loftie-Eaton, Ryan Tippett, Rene Navarro & Les Underhill
Dragonfly Atlas: Megan Loftie-Eaton, Ryan Tippett, Rene Navarro & Les Underhill
Megan Loftie-Eaton is our communications, social media and citizen science projects coordinator. Prior to her work for the BDI, she coordinated OdonataMAP, the Atlas of African Odonata. Ryan Tippett is an enthusiastic contributor to Citizen Science and has added many important and interesting records of fauna and flora. He has been a member of the VMU since 2014 and has currently submitted over 11000 records. He is also on the expert identification panel for the OdonataMAP project. Rene Navarro is the genius behind the Virtual Museum. Prof Les Underhill has been Director of the Animal Demography Unit (ADU) at the University of Cape Town since it started in 1991. Although citizen science in biology is Les’s passion, his academic background is in mathematical statistics.