Blue Dasher

Common Name: Blue Dasher.

Scientific Name: Pachydiplax Longipennis.

What to look for?  Smaller, beautiful dragonfly with distinctive coloring! The upper or dorsal portion of the abdomen and the thorax is a pale pruinose or powdery blue color. The face is white. The eyes are jade-green in males and reddish-brown in females. The front of the thorax is brown with pale green sides and yellow stripes. The wings are typically clear but may be somewhat flavescent or yellowish. Both genders have an amber patch at the base of each hindwing. The legs are black. Dragonflies have segmented abdomen (typically ten segments). The second to last segment is black or dark on the Blue Dasher with the last segment pale.

Where can they be found at Carillon Stonegate Pond? The Blue Dasher will be found here from June to September. Look for them flying around the water’s edge. They will often perch on tips of our tall grasses and water plants surrounding our ponds. They may even settle in on your lawn chairs!

How big are they? Small dragonfly. The Blue Dasher averages approximately one and one-half inches in length. And their wingspan is approximately one and one-half inches.

What are their flight patterns? The Blue Dasher is an active flier. Males may be seen regularly battling over territories and chasing each other around the bulrushes and cattails on Carillon Stonegate Pond. From their perches located at the tip of tall grasses and wildflowers, they fly out to capture prey.

How else do they behave? Blue Dashers are aggressive predators, regularly taking over 10% of their body weight in prey daily. The Blue Dasher is often seen perched vertically on twigs and branches in trees at a variety of heights. Both genders stick their abdomens upright in the air when perched, as if on alert.

What’s for dinner? Flying insects! Adult Blue Dashers will eat almost any small, soft-bodied flying insect, including mosquitoes, flies, butterflies, moths, mayflies, and flying ants or termites. Larval dragonflies are called naiads. During their larval stage, naiads feed on a wide variety of smaller aquatic insects, such as mosquito larvae, other aquatic fly larvae, mayfly larvae, and freshwater shrimp.

Where do they take up residence? The preferred habitats of the Blue Dasher are still water bodies such as ponds, marshes and lakes throughout much of the U.S., except the Great Basin and Rocky Mountains, and into southern Canada.

When and where do they breed and nest? Male Blue Dashers will establish multiple breeding territories along the shoreline. They will defend and chase other males out by raising their pruinose blue abdomen upright. Mating takes place while in flight or perched. The male will guard the female from a nearby perch while she deposits eggs. She may lay 500 or more eggs by flying low over the water usually near a heavily vegetated pond edge and repeatedly tapping her abdomen to the surface. Females remain farther back from the water when not laying eggs or mating. Once the Blue Dasher eggs hatch, the life cycle of a dragonfly larva begins as a nymph. A nymph looks like a little alien creature or a squat bug. They live underwater and eat smaller aquatic insects including other naiads sharing the same pond. This phase of their life cycle can take up to several years to complete. They eventually emerge from the water as adults at night.

Where do they migrate? Blue Dashers do not migrate.

Do they make any interesting sounds? No.

Interesting Facts About the Blue Dasher:

  • Blue Dashers are one of the most abundant dragonflies in the U.S.

  • According to one source, the 300 or more insects an adult Blue Dasher puts away daily represent 10% to 15% of its body weight.

  • The naiads are very tolerant of water that is polluted or has low levels of dissolved oxygen and their presence is interpreted as a possible indicator of low water quality.

  • Dragonflies were some of the first winged insects to evolve, some 300 million years ago and had wingspans of up to two feet.

  • There are more than 5,000 known species of dragonflies, all of which (along with damselflies) belong to the order Odonata, which means “toothed one” in Greek and refers to the dragonfly’s serrated teeth.

  • In their larval stage, which can last up to two years or more, dragonflies are aquatic and eat just about anything—tadpoles, mosquitoes, fish, other insect larvae and even each other.

  • At the end of its larval stage, the dragonfly crawls out of the water, then its exoskeleton cracks open and releases the insect’s abdomen, which had been packed in like a telescope. Its four wings come out, and they dry and harden over the next several hours to days.

  • Some adult dragonflies live for only a few weeks while others live up to a year.

  • Nearly all of the dragonfly’s head is eye, so they have incredible vision that encompasses almost every angle except right behind them.

  • Dragonflies, which eat insects as adults, are a great control on the mosquito population, consuming up to hundreds of mosquitoes per day.

For more information on the Blue Dasher and sources of information used in this blog (these are the several of the sources that I am using to learn as I blog), please visit Odonata Central, Bug Guide, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, Idaho State University and Dragonflies of Northern Virginia

The Carillon at Stonegate community is very fortunate to have a variety of wetland, forest and prairie environments conducive to a variety of birds and other wildlife, insects and plants. Our community and the Kane County Forest Preserve do an exceptional job in maintaining this natural environment – both for the benefit of the birds and wildlife and for our residents to enjoy.

 

Take a hike and see what you can find – and identify!