Aeshna palmata
(Paddle-tailed Darner)

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

   Naiad- This is a large naiad, or immature dragonfly, with a length of 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 inches (37 to 43 mm). It is long and slender like other Darner naiads. 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 large dragonfly with a length of 2 1/2 to 3 inches (63 to 74 mm). 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 spots of blue and smaller spots of yellowish green. Males have paddle-shaped anal appendages. Females usually have yellow abdominal spots instead of blue, but may be marked identically to the males.

This species is found from Alaska south to British Columbia and Alberta to northern California, Utah and Colorado. In Idaho, it is found throughout the state.

This dragonfly occurs near lakes, ponds, marshes, and slow streams in a wide variety of habitats.

Adult Flight Season:
Early July - October

   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.

Like other Darners, the naiads are active predators and are able to swim by jet propulsion - 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 typically emerge as adults at night. This behavior probably evolved to avoid being eaten be daytime predators. Adults generally fly from early July to October. This is probably the most common dragonfly in Idaho. There are vast numbers of these dragonflies at the sedge marshes of Bear Lake and Gray's Lake in late summer and early fall.

Males establish and defend territories along the shores of ponds, lakes, marshes, and hot springs. After males and females mate, females fly singly, without the male attached, to lay their eggs in the stems and leaves of aquatic plants.

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.