Paddletail Darner Dragonfly

Paddletail Darner Dragonfly, Vancouver Island, BC
Paddletail Darner Dragonfly, Vancouver Island, BC, Photo By Bud Logan

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 maybe marked identically to the males.

This species 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.

Paddletail Darner Dragonfly, Vancouver Island, BC
Paddletail Darner Dragonfly, Vancouver Island, BC, Photo By Bud Logan

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 are 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.

One thought on “Paddletail Darner Dragonfly”

  1. There’s a small nature park by the Little River Ferry terminal that is truly spectacular. You can find all sorts of dragonflies there, including one I thought was a Red-Veined Darter. It’s always a challenge to catch these pond denizens in flight, but it’s a challenge I enjoy taking up. There are two artificial ponds at the Little River Nature Park and while one is pretty close to drying up, the other is still a popular watering hole. There is a heronry, an active bald eagle’s nest and I’ve seen harrier hawks, red-tail hawks, ravens, and belted kingfishers there.

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