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Shadow Darners Laying Eggs

9-4-17 darner laying eggs2 049A4462

The dragonfly family Aeshnidae consists of strong-flying dragonflies called darners, some of which are over three inches in length.  The majority of darners reach the peak of their population in August and early September.  Male Shadow Darners (Aeshna umbrosa) can be seen patrolling breeding sites a few feet over the water’s surface, searching for females and driving off competing males. Females can be observed repeatedly landing at the base of cattails, inserting their sharp-edged ovipositors and slicing open leaves, where they then deposit their eggs.  If you look at the bottom third of cattails at this time of year, near the water’s surface, you will find tiny, tan, vertical slits where dragonfly egg-laying has taken place. (Photo:  female Shadow Darner laying eggs)

9 responses

  1. You have the most interesting posts!

    September 5, 2017 at 8:59 am

  2. Alice Pratt

    And if the water rises, I hope it won’t damage the eggs.

    September 5, 2017 at 9:08 am

  3. Tanya Tellman

    Do they overwinter as eggs?

    September 5, 2017 at 9:46 am

    • Yes, Tanya, this far north the eggs remain dormant over winter, and the young naiads emerge in the spring.

      September 5, 2017 at 11:09 am

  4. Kathie Fiveash

    So beautiful that we see the shadow-like reflection of the shadow darner.

    September 5, 2017 at 10:25 am

    • So nice you noticed, Kathie. I have far better shots of this darner, but the shadow made me choose this one!

      September 5, 2017 at 11:10 am

  5. I love watching them fly to and fro at this time of year. Even the dog notices them and sometimes barks at them! 🙂

    September 5, 2017 at 9:40 pm

  6. Nancy Condon

    Do they lay eggs only in cattail? If so, with Phragmites taking over so much cattail habitat, I wonder how the Shadow Darner population will fare.

    September 6, 2017 at 7:04 am

    • No, I should have mentioned that it isn’t just cattails! They were even laying on herbaceous plants that were floating on the surface of the water. They don’t appear to be choosy at all, but definitely do favor cattail if it’s available.

      September 6, 2017 at 8:49 am

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