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Harlequin Darner



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Gomphaeschna furcillata

Say, 1839


Order Odonata
Suborder Anisoptera
Superfamily Aeshnoidea
Family Aeshnidae
Genus Gomphaeschna
Species furcillata (Say, 1839) [Aeschna]


Identification

This is the only pygmy darner in Texas. The face and thorax are greenish-brown, the latter covered with numerous gray-white hairs. The abdomen is dark with pale marks as in Taper-tailed Darner(G. antilope ) . The male cerci are smoothly curved to their tip, lacking a distinct inferior angle as seen in Taper-tailed Darner.

Size

Total length: 52-60 mm; abdomen: 39-46 mm; hindwing: 29-36 mm.

Similar Species

Taper-tailed Darner is similar, but duller and darker in overall color. The male abdomen is not tapered in Harlequin Darner. The lateral spots on the middle abdominal segments and the dorsal spots on segments 2-3 are rusty orange in the Taper-tailed Darner.

Habitat

Shallow sphagnum bogs and swamps.

Discussion

Harlequin Darner emerges in the early spring, well before Taper-tailed Darner. Males are unusual in often patrolling over land and are commonly seen flying on windy days. They can fly long distances and are often found feeding at forest edges. Males may patrol non-stop for an hour or more at mid-day flying just a few inches above the water. Like Taper-tailed Darner they will readily perch on tree trunks, but also occasionally on overhanging branches.

Distribution

Eastern U.S. from Ontario southward to Florida; westward to Texas and Wisconsin.