Dragonflies, Pacific Northwest
The Paddletail Darner Dragonfly is a big dragonfly with a length up to 7.5 cm. The base color of the male is brown to brownish black. The top of the thorax is marked with several yellowish green dashes, while each side of the thorax is marked with a pair of fairly thick, yellowish green diagonal stripes.
The abdomen is marked with bands or large dots of blue and smaller dots of yellowish green. Males have paddle shaped anal appendages. Females normally have yellow abdominal dots instead of blue, but may be marked identically to the males.
The Paddletail Dragonfly is found from Alaska south to B.C. and all of Vancouver Island. This dragonfly can be seen around lakes, ponds, marshes, and slow streams in a wide variety of habitats. They fly from early July to October.
Males create and defend territories along the shores of ponds, lakes and marshes. After males and females mate, females fly off alone to lay their eggs on the leaves of aquatic plants.
The larvae is large with a length up to 4.5 cm. It is long and slender like other darner larvae. It is mottled green and brown and has a single, rear facing spine on each side of abdominal segments six through nine. The larvae are active predators and are able to swim by squirting water out from the ends of their abdomens. They can live in a wide variety of aquatic habitats ranging from hot springs to cold alpine lakes. They generally take several years to mature and will emerge as adults at night.
These larvae are awesome to watch as they hunt along on the bottom of a pond or slow moving stream.