Aeshna multicolor
(Blue-eyed Darner)


Order: Odonata
Suborder: Anisoptera
Order Description:
Dragonflies
Family: Aeshnidae
Family Description: Darners

Description:
   Naiad- This is a large naiad, or immature dragonfly, with a length of 1 3/8 to 1 5/8 inches (35 to 40 mm). It is long and slender like other Darner naiads. It is mottled green and brown and has a single, rear-facing spine on each side of abdominal segments six through nine. Note that the spine on abdominal segment six is very short.
   Adult- This is a large dragonfly with a length of 2 1/2 to 2 3/4 inches (65 to 70 mm). The eyes of both males and females are bright blue. The male is dark brown to brownish black. The top of the thorax, behind the head, is marked with two blue stripes, and each side of the thorax is marked with a pair of blue diagonal stripes. The abdomen is marked with both large and small blue spots. The anal appendages of males are forked. The female is marked similarly to the male; however, the base color is brown and the markings are green.

Range:
This species is found from southern British Columbia south to Baja California and Texas. It also occurs throughout Mexico and Central America. In Idaho, it is found throughout the state, but prefers open sunny places at low elevations. It is commonly sighted in the sagebrush steppe of the Snake River Plain.

Habitat:
This species occurs near lakes, ponds, and marshes at lower elevations.

Adult Flight Season:
Early June - October

Diet:
   Naiad- Naiads feed on a wide variety of aquatic insects, such as mosquito larvae, other aquatic fly larvae, mayfly larvae, and freshwater shrimp. They will also eat small fish and tadpoles.
   Adult- The dragonfly will eat almost any soft-bodied flying insect including mosquitoes, flies, butterflies, moths, mayflies, and stoneflies.

Ecology:
Like other Darners, the naiads are active predators, and are able to swim by jet propulsion - squirting water out from the ends of their abdomens. They generally take several years to mature, and when they emerge, or change into adult dragonflies, they do so at night. This behavior probably evolved to avoid being eaten be daytime predators. Adults generally fly from early June to October. This is usually the second earliest Darner to emerge in the spring, with the California Darner emerging first. It hunts small flying insects while on the wing.

Reproduction:
Males establish and defend territories and can be very aggressive towards anything, even small birds, that invade their territory. After males and females mate, females fly singly, without the male attached, to lay their eggs in the stems and leaves of aquatic plants. They tend to be very elusive and secretive as they search for egg-laying sites in shoreline vegetation.

Conservation:
Populations are widespread, abundant, and secure.
Status: Unprotected nongame species
Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S?

References:
Corbet, P. S. 1999. Dragonflies: Behavior and Ecology of Odonata. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York, USA, 829pp.

Logan, E. R. 1967. The Odonata of Idaho. Unpublished M. S. thesis. University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho, USA, 105 pp.

Needham, J. G. and M. J. Westfall. 1955. Dragonflies of North America. University of California Press, Berkely, California, USA, 615 pp.

Paulson, D. R. 1999. Dragonflies of Washington. Seattle Audubon Society, Seattle, Washington, USA, 32 pp.

Walker, E. M. and P. S. Corbet. 1975. The Odonata of Canada and Alaska, Vol. III. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 307 pp.


Written by Mark Lung and Stefan Sommer, 2001
Photos by Dennis Paulson, 2001
Design/HTML by Ean Harker, 2001.