Friendly Hawker (Zosteraeschna minuscula)

View the above photo record of a Friendly Hawker (by Gregg Darling) in OdonataMAP here.

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

Family Aeshnidae

Zosteraeschna minusculaFRIENDLY HAWKER


Large size

Length up to 62mm; Wingspan reaches 83mm.

The sexes are similar but females either lack the blue saddle or it is very reduced. Females also have amber outer wings.

Zosteraeschna minuscula is closely similar to the Forest Hawker (Zosteraeschna usambarica), but differs in having an anchor-shaped marking on the forehead and straight, parallell green markings on the shoulders. The Friendly Hawker also has somewhat paler, duller green stripes on the sides of the thorax. These stripes are a brighter shade of green in the Forest Hawker.

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

Zosteraeschna minuscula – Male
Seweweekspoort, Western Cape
Photo by Ryan Tippett


Inhabits the slow moving or still sections of rivers, ponds and dams. Mostly found in open habitats in the grassland and fynbos biomes, but also widespread in the southern parts of the Karoo. A mid to high altitude species in the north of its range, but occurs to near sea level in the Eastern and Western Cape.

Habitat – Bainskloof, Western Cape
Photo by Sharon Stanton


Patrols back and forth over the water and the vegetated fringes. Fairly inquisitive and may approach an observer before moving off again. Often seen hovering over one spot before quickly darting off. The flight is swift and powerful.

Status and Conservation

Fairly common. Listed as of Least Concern in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Has successfully adapted to make use of suitable man-made habitats.


Near-endemic to South Africa. Occurs in a broad band from the Western Cape northwards to the extreme southern parts of Limpopo. Found, at least marginally in all South African Provinces. Also known locally from several sites in Namibia.

Below is a map showing the distribution of records for Friendly 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.