To learn more about the groups (genera) of Darners, click on the links at the right
or in the menu.
The most notable characteristic of darners is their size. They are
among the largest dragonflies that exist. Most species range between
2.5" - 5" in length. Darners have very large compound eyes
that cover most of the head and meet along a broad seam on the top of the
head. The thorax is robust and often patterned with frontal stripes
and two lateral stripes, which may be blue, green or yellow. Most Darners have
long slender abdomens colorfully adorned with patterns of yellow, blue or green.
Females are similar to males, but have stockier abdomens.
Darners are frequently seen flying in swarms during the
late summer months, searching for food. In the evenings they are commonly
found patrolling around the shorelines in almost any body of water, or
catching food on the wing over open fields. Darners are fast
and strong fliers reaching great heights, and when they take time to perch,
they often hang vertically on trees, although they may perch low in grasses or
small bushes. Especially on cool mornings, they may perch horizontally on
have been genetically programmed with a highly developed nervous system,
enabling them some control over their body temperature; therefore they can fly in
colder temperatures than most other dragonflies. They have been seen
well into mid-autumn in the Northeast.
Female darners have a blade-like
ovipositor which allows them to insert their eggs into underwater plant
tissues. In most species the females oviposits alone, although there are a few
exceptions like the Common Green Darner where the pair remains in tandem while
Darner larvae are smooth and
slender, mostly brown, mottled and banded with darker shades blending in with
their environment. They are active climbers and live in
vegetation around still waters and stream edges. It is
probably the most active and voracious larva among the dragonflies. It will eat anything smaller than itself, including mosquito
larvae, tadpoles, and has occasionally been known to dine on a small fish.