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Swamp Darner



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Epiaeschna heros

Fabricius, 1798


Order Odonata
Suborder Anisoptera
Superfamily Aeshnoidea
Family Aeshnidae
Genus Epiaeschna
Species heros (Fabricius, 1798) [Aeschna]


Identification

This large common species has brilliant blue eyes and a brown body with green thoracic stripes and narrow green abdominal rings. The wings are often heavily tinged with amber. The abdomen is brown, long and nearly parallel sided posteriorly. The caudal appendages are long in both sexes. The male appendages are complex and distinctly hairy. The female appendages are flattened appearing petiolate.

Size

Total length: 80-94 mm; abdomen: 63-72 mm; hindwing: 52-60 mm.

Similar Species

This species is equally large but more widespread than the similar Regal Darner (Coryphaeshna ingens ) which has a largely green thorax with brown stripes and blue eyes only in mature females. Cyrano Darner (Nasiaeshna pentacantha ) is similar, but it is smaller with a striped abdomen.

Habitat

Heavily wooded ponds, streams and ox-bows including ephemeral pools and ponds

Discussion

This species is among the largest in North America. It is unusual, in that like the Regal Darner, males don't defend or patrol territories. They are, however, often seen swarming in large numbers, feeding on flying insects at dusk, both high in the air or lower to the ground, such as over culverts. This species seems to enter open windows and buildings with some frequency, perhaps owing to a similarity to its naturally shaded haunts. Incidental collections of Swamp Darners have been made in traps designed for arboreal beetles, in which the trap opening was slightly smaller than the wingspan of the victims. Females lay eggs in mud or vegetation, often some distance above the water line or in areas that will fill with water after heavy rains.

Distribution

Eastern U.S. and Canada westward to central Oklahoma and Texas, straying south into Mexico.