Common Green Darner
(Order Odonata; Family Aeshnidae)
Anax junius, male (photo by Mary Liz Jameson)
(Kansas: Kingman County. WSU Gerber Reserve, 0.5 mi W Waterloo, 37°40’42’’N, 97°56’57’’W. At pond. August 18, 2011.)
Adult Diagnosis: Among the largest and most common dragonfly species in Kansas, with a length of about 7.6 cm (3 inches). Males and females are easily recognized by their large size, green head and thorax, and by the target-shaped mark on the top of the frons. Wings are clear (occasionally with an amber wash). The abdomen of the adult male is sky blue laterally with a dark line from base to tip. The abdomen of the females and teneral males is reddish-brown with a dark line from base to tip.
Male Anax junius. Dorsal view (left) and lateral view (right) (from: http://agrilife.org/dragonfly/dragonfly-catalog/aeshnidae/anax-junius).
Female Anax junius. Dorsal view (left) and lateral view (right) (from: http://agrilife.org/dragonfly/dragonfly-catalog/aeshnidae/anax-junius).
Adult Natural History: The Common Green Darner is characterized by a flickering wing beat. Males patrol irregular territories and fly 3-4 feet (0.9-1.2 meters) from the surface of the water. Adults fly constantly during the day and seldom land on vegetation. Male and female are often observed in the wheel position (mating).
Unlike most other darner species, female oviposit (lay eggs) while flying in tandem. The male holds the female by the head with his claspers. The female uses her blade-like ovipositor to cut submerged plant tissues and insert her eggs.
Adult Common Green Darners migrate northwards in the spring (April to May) where they reproduce. Their progeny mature and emerge from August to September, and then they migrate southwards. These individuals do not migrate the following spring, but their progeny do.
Distribution: The species is widely distributed in Kansas. It is widely distributed in North America, ranging southward to Panama and the West Indies.
Distribution of Anax junius in Kansas. Map created by http://www.odonatacentral.org/index.php/MapAction.windowed.
Habitat: Both adults and larvae of the Common Green Darner can be found in ponds, lakes, marshes, and wetland with still waters with emergent or floating vegetation.
Diet: Adults feed on insects that are caught on the wing, particularly small flies. Swarms may gather where prey is abundant. Larvae are voracious predators and will feed on small fish, tadpoles, and invertebrates.
Larva of Anax junius feeding on fish (copyright by John C. Abbott: http://www.odonatacentral.org/index.php/GalleryAction.viewImage/id/40/taxon_id/45009/submission/0).
Conservation Status: Stable
Anax junius naiad (Spaz) catches and eats a mealworm:
Common Green Darner (Aeshnidae: Anax junius) Ovipositing
Extreme Dragonfly Closeup
Odonata Central. Photo Gallery: http://www.odonatacentral.org/index.php/GalleryAction.getTaxaImages/taxon_id/45009
Bug Guide: Species Anax junius - Common Green Darner: http://bugguide.net/node/view/585
Damselfly and dragonfly larvae (Odonata): http://www.giffbeaton.com/Odonate%20larvae.htm
Great Lakes Waterlife Photo Gallery Aquatic Insects of the Great Lakes Diptera - Flies, Midges and Mosquitos: http://www.glerl.noaa.gov/seagrant/GLWL/Benthos/Insecta/Odonata/Odonata.html#Browse
American Insects: http://www.americaninsects.net/d/anax-junius.html
Legler, K., D. Legler, and D. Westover. 1998. Color Guide to Common Dragonflies of Wisconsin. Karl Legler, Sauk, WI.
Rosche, L., J. Semroc, and L. Gilbert. 2008. Dragonflies and Damselflies of Northeast Ohio, 2nd Edition. The Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Cleveland, OH.
Dunkle, S. W. 2000. Dragonflies Through Binoculars: A Field Guide to Dragonflies of North America. Oxford University Press, New York, NY.
Submitted by: Mary Liz Jameson, August 2011