It is large, with a long body. It has green markings on the black bodies, and the male also has blue spots on the abdomen.
The southern hawker breeds in still or slow-flowing water, but will wander widely, and is often seen in gardens and open woodland. This is an inquisitive species and will approach people.
The adult eats various insects, caught on the wing. The nymphs feed on aquatic insects, tadpoles and small fish ambushed in the pond they frequent until they emerge as adults in July and August after three years’ development.
This is a large, brightly coloured dragonfly. The males are often seen patrolling by a ponds edge or river, where they fight away intruders, crashing into rival males and spiralling through the air. The females are quite inconspicuous when they lay their eggs, but they sometimes give away their spot by clattering up from the reeds.
The eggs are laid by jabbing the abdomen into rotting vegetation or wood. The eggs hatch in the spring, after being laid in the previous summer or autumn. The larvae live on small tadpoles and invertebrates. They emerge after 2–3 years.