An easily recognisable species, the dragonhunter is most commonly seen throughout the spring and summer months, from mid-April to mid-September, depending on the location. Away from water, the dragonhunter appears a somewhat wary species, often lurking in cover close to the ground, in trees, or along the forest edge (5). The adults of this species commonly perch horizontally on the ground, on stones, logs, or on the branches of trees and shrubs (6) (7).
As its common name suggests, the invertebrates_freshwater is a voracious predator, feeding on other dragonflies, as well as butterflies and other large insects (2) (4) (5) (7). When hunting for prey, the dragonhunter will perch motionless and wait for insects to pass by, or will fly up and down along the water’s edge, actively searching for prey on which to feed (7). The dragonhunter is frequently observed foraging along open roads or swooping through sunny openings, close to woods and streams (4).
The male invertebrates_freshwater is likely to be territorial during the breeding season (10). Once the male has attracted a female, the pair will engage in the characteristic tandem mating position of dragonflies in which the male grasps the female using claspers at the tip of the abdomen (11). The male dragonhunter has the dubious distinction of inflicting more damage to the female during mating than any other dragonfly, sometimes gouging the female’s eyes, piercing the exoskeleton, or puncturing holes in the female’s head (5) (12).
Immediately after mating, the female will fly close to the surface of the water to lay the eggs, swooping down rhythmically to tap the water’s surface with the tip of the abdomen. The female may sometimes lay the eggs while hovering, dropping to the water to tap the surface before rising up again, or at other times may make long egg-laying flights over open water (2) (4) (5) (7).
The larvae, or nymphs, of the dragonhunter are exceptionally long-lived, remaining in the water for four or more years before metamorphosing into adults (9).