Dragonflies, Pacific Northwest
You can see the Blue-Eyed Darner Dragonfly on the south coast of the Pacific Northwest. This is a large dragonfly with a length of 6.5 to 8 cm. 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 has 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.
This species is found from southern British Columbia south to Baja California and Texas. It also occurs throughout Mexico and Central America. This species can be found near lakes, ponds, and marshes at lower elevations.
The dragonfly will eat almost any soft-bodied flying insect including mosquitoes, flies, butterflies, and moths. 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 off to lay their eggs in the stems and leaves of aquatic plants. They tend to be very elusive as they search for egg-laying sites in shoreline vegetation.
Like other Darners, the naiads are active predators and are able to swim by squirting water out from the ends of their abdomens. Naiads feed on a wide variety of aquatic insects, such as mosquito larvae, other aquatic fly larvae and mayfly larvae. They will also eat small fish and tadpoles.
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.