Aeshna californica
(California Darner)

Order: Odonata
Suborder: Anisoptera
Order Description:
Family: Aeshnidae
Family Description: Darners

   Naiad- This is a medium-sized naiad, or immature dragonfly, with a length of 1 5/16 to 1 1/2 inches (33 to 37 mm). It is long and slender, which is the typical shape of an immature Darner dragonfly. It is mottled green and brown and has a single, rear-facing spine on each side of abdominal segments six through nine.
   Adult- This is a medium-sized dragonfly with a length of 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 inches (57 to 64 mm). The male is dark brown to brownish black. Each side of the thorax is marked with two blue to bluish green diagonal stripes, while the top of the thorax is unmarked. The abdomen is marked with large blue spots alternating with smaller greenish dots. There are several wide blue bands circling the abdomen near where it meets the thorax. Most females resemble the males in color, but some may have greenish yellow markings instead of blue.

This species is found from southern British Columbia south to Baja California and Arizona. In Idaho it is found throughout the state.

This dragonfly can be found near lakes, ponds, and marshes at lower elevations.

Adult Flight Season:
Mid April - Late June

   Naiad- Naiads feed on a wide variety of aquatic insects, such as mosquito larvae, other aquatic fly larvae, mayfly larvae, and freshwater shrimp. They will also eat small fish and tadpoles.
   Adult- The dragonfly will eat almost any soft-bodied flying insect including mosquitoes, flies, butterflies, moths, mayflies, and stoneflies.

The naiads are active predators, and are able to swim by jet propulsion - squirting water out from the ends of their abdomens. They generally take several years to mature, and when they emerge, or change into adult dragonflies, they do so at night. This behavior probably evolved to avoid being eaten be daytime predators. Adult California Darners generally fly from mid-April through the end of June, making it one of the first dragonflies seen each spring. Adults are able to regulate their body temperature which enables them to fly in temperatures too cold for most dragonflies.

Males establish and defend territories along the shores of ponds and lakes. After males and females mate, females fly singly, without the male attached, to lay their eggs in the stems and leaves of aquatic plants. They have been observed resting on lily pads and reaching under the lily pad with their abdomen to deposit eggs on the underside of the pad.

Populations are widespread, abundant, and secure.
Status: Unprotected nongame species
Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S?

Corbet, P. S. 1999. Dragonflies: Behavior and Ecology of Odonata. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York, USA, 829pp.

Logan, E. R. 1967. The Odonata of Idaho. Unpublished M. S. thesis. University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho, USA, 105 pp.

Needham, J. G. and M. J. Westfall. 1955. Dragonflies of North America. University of California Press, Berkely, California, USA, 615 pp.

Paulson, D. R. 1999. Dragonflies of Washington. Seattle Audubon Society, Seattle, Washington, USA, 32 pp.

Walker, E. M. and P. S. Corbet. 1975. The Odonata of Canada and Alaska, Vol. III. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 307 pp.

Written by Mark Lung and Stefan Sommer, 2001
Photos by Dennis Paulson, 2001
Design/HTML by Ean Harker, 2001.