Impurest's Guide to Animals #164 - Brown Hawker

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Edited By ImpurestCheese

Note to self, get better work boots, don’t ask why but the ones I have are awful and keep leaking despite being waterproofed just last week. Things that aren’t awful include the Palm Nut Vulture which was the focus of last week’s blog.

And steering back to awful, the answer to last week’s mystery murder was f. This savanna crime scene drama is based off a real life case from Zimbabwe, where over the course of two days 500 animals were found dead or dying after feeding off an elephant killed by poachers. The body was laced with cyanide in an attempt to reduce the number of scavengers, which can alert rangers to the presence of poachers.

With that dealt with we now turn our attention to a smaller, albeit more deadly aerial killer, hope you guys enjoy.

_________________________________________________________________

Issue #164 – Brown Hawker

[1]
[1]

Kingdom – Animalia

Phylum – Arthropoda

Class – Insecta

Order – Odonta

Family – Aeshnidae

Genus – Aeshna

Species – grandis

Related Species - The Brown Hawker is one of a number of large dragonfly species found in the family Aeshnidae, also known as the Hawkers.

Range - Brown Hawker’s can be found across the lowlands and wooded margins of Central Europe, as well as the United Kingdom and the Low Countries

Insectile Interceptor

Brown Hawker’s are large chocolate brown dragonflies, with an average body length of 7cm. This species is fairly easy to identify because it is one of a few species, and the only fairly common one, to have brown tinting to the veins in its wings, although this is far more apparent in the males than in the females. Both genders have rows of yellow stripes running up and down their flanks, and male hawkers can be distinguished from females by additional blue markings on the thorax and abdomen.

[2]
[2]

As their name suggests, the Brown Hawkers, and by extension all dragonflies classified as ‘Hawkers’, are active predators that patrol their territories looking for prey, rivals and potential mates. Should the former be seen, the Brown Hawker will intercept its prey mid-flight and bring it to a feeding perch, before shredding it with its mandibles in order to make eating its captured victim easier (2). Potential mates are seized in much the same way, with the male forming a heart like structure with his abdomen positioned over the females thorax, while her abdomen and reproductive organs are positioned above the secondary pair of gonads on the male’s thorax (3).

[3]
[3]

The female Brown Hawker will lay her eggs shortly after mating, with both her and her mate dying after reproduction. These eggs will hatch into aquatic ‘nymphs’ which share many morphological features with the adults save for the wings, although later moults begin to show signs of vestigial wings beginning to form. Like the adults, these nymphs are predatory, and will feed on tadpoles and small fish as well as other invertebrates, catching their intended prey by pumping water into the body to propel the extendable pair of jaws, known as a ‘mask’ out into the victim. Eventually, after a period of a few years, the nymph leaves the water at night and completes one final moult of its skin before emerging as a winged reproductive adult or imago.

Five Fun Brown Hawker Facts

Uniquely among insects, each separate wing of dragonflies and damselflies are controlled independently by a single muscle. Because of this dragonflies can hover for prolonged periods of time and even fly backwards.

To aid them in flight, the eyes of a dragonfly are comprised of light sensitive cells known as ommatidia. The eyes of the Brown Hawker contain up to 22500 of these cells, and allow it an almost 360 degree field of vision.

Brilliant vision and skilled powered flight make the Hawker dragonflies some of the most effective predators in the world. Around 95% of attack runs result in the dragonfly making a kill (4). In contrast Great White Shark (Carcharodoncarcharia) only achieve a kill with a little over half of all attacks while Lions (Panthera leo) only get a kill with 25% of their attacks.

[4]
[4]

Male Dragonflies transfer sperm from their primary gonads at the rear of the abdomen to their secondary gonads mounted on their thorax to aid in reproduction.

Despite the modern day association of dragonflies with grace and elegance, they weren’t always seen as such. Many dragonflies, especially the Hawekers, are known as darners, a relict term coming from the belief that such insects were the ‘devil’s darning needles’ that he used to poke the eyes out of his victims. In some places in Europe such as Portugal and Norway, dragonflies are still referred to as tira-olhos (eye-snatcher) and Øyenstikker (eye-poker) in their respective languages (5).

Bibliography

1 -www.arkive.org

2 - Powell, Dan (1999). A Guide to the Dragonflies of Great Britain. Arlequin Press.

3 - Nachtigall, W (2013) Biological Mechanisms of Attachment: The Comparative Morphology and Bioengineering of Organs for Linkage, Suction, and Adhesion

4 - http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/1216/20130404/master-hunter-dragonflies-kill-prey-95-percent-time.htm

5 - http://www.petzon.se/dragonfly/main/just_for_fun/folklore.html

Picture References

1 - https://www.rutlandwater.org.uk/wp-content/gallery/dragonflies/BrownHawker-f.jpeg

2 - https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7260/7882949164_4a0d25b7a4_b.jpg

3 - https://c2.staticflickr.com/8/7745/18431008761_900312f728_b.jpg

4 - http://hampshiredragonflies.co.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/D90_38242.jpg

I like dragonflies, always have, always will despite how brutal they are. Next week we swap high speed offence with defence as we meet a slow lumbering yet very persistent predator. But until then make sure to critic, comment and suggest future issues as well as making sure you check past issues in Impurest’s Bestiary

Many Thanks

Impurest Cheese

Want more IGTA? For another fast moving predatory insect, click here to see the Green Tiger Beetle. Or for something even more insidious, click here to see another airborne assassin, the ruthless Robber Fly.

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amazing_webhead

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i did not know "hawk" could be used as a verb

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I really love Dragon flies, not as much as Cicadas, but still ^-^

Nice Article honey.

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@amazing_webhead: Yeah 'to hawk' is to aggressively and loudly sell your wares. In nature however, it's used to describe the behaviour of birds, bats and insects that catch (smaller) insects in mid-air

@bella_blackstar: Hmm may have to look into something cicada-ish. We really don't have them here except in the New Forest.

Thanks for the comment

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Amendment50

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Well here we go, finally one I don't think is cute.

And steering back to awful, the answer to last week’s mystery murder was f. This savanna crime scene drama is based off a real life case from Zimbabwe, where over the course of two days 500 animals were found dead or dying after feeding off an elephant killed by poachers. The body was laced with cyanide in an attempt to reduce the number of scavengers, which can alert rangers to the presence of poachers.

Also wow, that kinda sucks.

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@amendment50: You have to admire the sleek lines of the adult though. To have a design that's been unchanged for over 400 million years is worth something.

And yes, unfortunately that's the tip of the ice-berg when it comes to poaching.

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#10  Edited By ImpurestCheese
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And steering back to awful, the answer to last week’s mystery murder was f. This savanna crime scene drama is based off a real life case from Zimbabwe, where over the course of two days 500 animals were found dead or dying after feeding off an elephant killed by poachers. The body was laced with cyanide in an attempt to reduce the number of scavengers, which can alert rangers to the presence of poachers.

Hey, I was right. But 500 animals in 2 days? Damn, that's crazy. Were they all scavenger birds, or is this including any land animals?

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Fitting name for an aerial killer.

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I was thinking (while reading this) that someone once told me that a dragonfly larvae the size of a dog would be more dangerous than a great white shark...then your article makes the reference to the great white shark thing. Too funny. I wonder if the larvae thing I heard is true, or something I'm remembering incorrectly.

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Awesome, as always.

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#19  Edited By ImpurestCheese

@amazing_webhead: No problem, thanks for reading

@pipxeroth:It includes animals of all types. The vultures were the first animals found because they fall asleep after feeding and as such don't move far from the poisoned corpse

@xwraith:It is indeed, thank you for the comment

@heroup2112: Not going to go that far but it would definitely be snatching ducks and moorhens off the surface of the water.

@wollfmyth209: Thank you ?

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Wow. I had no idea dragonflies are that good as predators. Interesting, do they outclass snakes in success rate of their hunts?

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@toratorn: The Dragonfly brain whilst simple can tune out unimportant items in their environment, which is probably a big factor in their success.

As for Snakes, that's a rather wide umbrella, certain species are probably more successful hunters than others, but so far nonw have been tested. The most successful non human mammalian predator is the Red Fox, with a success rate of about 68%.

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@impurestcheese: Do you think there is any animal in real life that would be Grass/Bug typing besides the one we already got? Like, a moth maybe?

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Yay, it's not a vulture. Sorry but I had to skip last week, I just cannot look at them.

95% success? That's some Batman level hypercompetence. O_O

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Its so...................brown.......

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@impurestcheese: Good blog as usual ?? One question, how long does it take you to come up with all of this info? I've never seen someone as dedicated and knowledgeable on animals like you! Oh and a final question, but which do you like more in terms of looks, the Morpho butterfly or Monarch?

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ImpurestCheese

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@black_wreath: Hyper-competent indeed. Yoy may be okay with the Palm Nut Vulture, it's largely herbivorous and doesn't eat carrion unless starving.

@xlr87t3: Well aphids have photosynthetic organs in their bodies which are identical to plants so yes, yes we have.

@solid_snake97: About six to eoght hours of reaserch goes into each blog, followed up bu an hour to two hours fact checking and another hours writing. As for dedication to animals, well it's kind of my job, as an ecologist I do surveys and translocations on areas ear-marked for development.

@jaycool2: Yep, it's one of those animals where the name sums it up perfectly

@toratorn: No problem ☺

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IceDemonKing

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The real reason it's called the brown hawker is because it eat's hawks.

This is not fake news

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@ficopedia: Yep, this species is my particular favourite

@jaycool2: It's American relatives eat Hummingbirds...

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Their eyes are one of the most amazing things I've ever seen in nature. Odonata (and Neuroptera) are, like, my second or third favourite groups of insects. :)

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@anna_karenina: They are pretty ammazing. While this is the first member of Odonta I've covered, there are at least two Neuroptera issues buzzing around here somewhere.

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Eye snatchers? How creepy. Soule could have went with a dragonfly angle for an antagonist in his latest Daredevil run.

This was really cool to read.

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@ms-lola: Maybe, there is a villain called Dragonfly with blinding eyebeams.

Thanks for the comment

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ImpurestCheese

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@ms-lola: Here comes the ms-lola Daredevil fan-fic staring Dragonfly. I can feel it in my marrow

No Caption Provided

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@impurestcheese said:

@ms-lola: Here comes the ms-lola Daredevil fan-fic staring Dragonfly. I can feel it in my marrow

No Caption Provided

I love it!

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@ms-lola: Then write it up and I'll comment on it

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#40  Edited By cbishop

@ms-lola: There were several comic characters named Dragonfly, but my favorite was from the 1980's Dial H For Hero run in Adventure Comics:

Dragonfly
Dragonfly
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@cbishop: I love dragonflies. I wonder how excited Jay Sorey was to learn his character took? How cool for him.

Considering the interaction with Imp that I had above, maybe I should write something like she suggested. Looking back now, it kinda takes my breath away. I wish I had.

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@ms-lola: You still can. :)

As for Jay Sorey, he and every other person whose character was used in that Dial H run got an "I Dialed H For Hero" T-shirt, and that was it. lol ...It had to be pretty epic to get your character printed though. I came up with a few that I never mailed, but they were mainly versions of existing characters. I like to think I've gotten better since then. lol