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Common Green Darner



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Anax junius

Drury, 1773


Order Odonata
Suborder Anisoptera
Superfamily Aeshnoidea
Family Aeshnidae
Genus Anax
Species junius (Drury, 1773) [Libellula]


Identification

This widespread species is one of the most commonly seen in the region. The face is pale green with a distinct black spot on the top of the frons bordered anteriorly by a blue semicircle congering the impression of a bulls eyes. The thorax is green with brown only lightly represented on the lateral sutures. The wings are clear with a yellow costa. The abdomen is mostly blue, with green on segment 1 in males and greenish-brown or reddish-brown throughout in females. The brown superior caudal appendages in the male are long, about the length of segments 9-10 combined.

Size

Total length: 68-84 mm; abdomen: 46-60 mm; hindwing: 45-58 mm.

Similar Species

Amazon Darner (A. amazili) has a triangular spot on the top of the frons and the abdomen appears ringed. Giant Darner (A. walsinghami) is much larger and Great Pondhawk (Erythemis vesiculosa) is much smaller.

Habitat

Permanent and temporary ponds, lakes, bays and slow-flowing streams with emergent vegetation.

Discussion

This species is probably one of the most familiar dragonflies in all of North America. It is one of the few North American dragonflies that migrates and is therefore most common in the spring and fall. It is a voracious predator commonly taking wasps, butterflies, mosquitoes, and other dragonflies on the wing (photo 000). It has even been reported to attack hummingbirds and can be cannibalistic. It is not uncommon to walk through an open field of tall grass in the early morning and have Common Green Darners flying up from their perches low to the ground, an unusual behavior amongst darners. Mating pairs may fall out of the air to the ground or be seen hanging in bushes or trees. This species is unusual among the darners within the region because females will lay eggs in tandem. Individuals darken considerably in response to cold temperatures but regain their original color upon warming up. There is evidence that its migratory movements are strongly dictated by seasonal warm fronts.

Distribution

Found throughout North America including all 50 United States; also West Indies; Guatemala and Belize south to Costa Rica and recently England.