Migrant Hawker in Cumbria

(April 25, 2019)

  • The Migrant Hawker is now commonly recorded within Cumbria, especially around the southern coastal areas, such as Walney, Askham and Aldingham, and on the Solway Plain.
  • It is an under-recorded species, as its resemblance to the widespread Common Hawker means that it is easily missed if not checked out carefully.
  • It emerges later than the Common Hawker, being on the wing from late July/early August into the autumn. An early August date suggests local breeding; September and October occurrences may be the result of immigrations.
  • On the wing, it gives the distinct impression of being smaller than the Common Hawker, with paler and smaller areas of blue (male) and yellow (female). At rest, it is rather more easily approached than the Common Hawker, which enables the diagnostic yellow triangle at the base of the abdomen (arrowed in photo) to be seen. Common Hawkers have a diagnostic yellow costa (leading edge to forewings), whereas it is brown in the Migrant Hawker.
  • Immature males have lovely pale lilac markings which later turn blue and are well worth looking out for in early August.
  • The Migrant Hawker is more likely to be found hawking along hedgerows and in sunny glades than the Common.
  • It breeds in ponds and gravel pits, but avoids the acidic moorland pools that provide much suitable habitat in the county for the Common Hawker. Unusually, the Migrant Hawker completes its lifecycle in one year, after overwintering as an egg. It therefore requires warm, sheltered and shallow pools that warm up quickly in spring to ensure rapid development of the larvae.
  • In the north of the county Migrant Hawker is more likely to be encountered as an immigrant later in the flight season.