Common Name: Eastern Pondhawk.
Scientific Name: Erythemis Simplicicollis.
What to look for? Look for bright green or pale blue dragonfly. The male and female Eastern Pondhawks differ in color. Adult males are pale or powdery blue over entire abdomen and thorax with a yellow-tipped abdomen. Their eyes and face are green. Females are an eye-popping bright green and are banded with some black markings or spots on the abdomen. Their eyes are brown. The wings the Eastern Pondhawk are translucent except for the vein and flexion lines (look like a clear stained glass window). These dragonflies are equipped with long leg spines that form an effective "basket" in which to hold their captured prey securely.
Where can they be found at Carillon Stonegate Pond? The Eastern Pondhawk will be found here from May to September. Look for them around the water’s edge. They will often perch on on the ground, flat rocks, logs or other objects surrounding our ponds and sometimes on our homes.
How big are they? The Eastern Pondhawk averages approximately one and two-thirds inches in length. And their wingspan is approximately one and one-fourth of an inch.
What are their flight patterns? The Eastern Pondhawk is athletic and swift-flying, but is not a long distance flier.
How else do they behave? Eastern Pondhawks aggressively defend their territory, which usually encompasses about five square yards of algae or other floating plants. Males display a unique "leap frogging" behavior when defending territories: when chasing another male, they will suddenly move under the male in front and repeat this swapping each of their positions often. Eastern Pondhawks have similar agility and ability as demonstrated by their avian namesake (i.e., hawk) when attacking their insect prey.
What’s for dinner? Other flying insects! Dragonflies are carnivores! The Eastern Pondhawk is an adept predator of other flying insects, including damselflies and butterflies. They commonly take prey as large as themselves. They hunt from the ground or from low perches, darting out to grab insect prey, and then flying to some convenient spot to enjoy dinner.
Where do they take up residence? The Eastern Pondhawk is found throughout the eastern United States and southern portions of Canada. They tend to prefer open pond and lake shores that are well exposed to sunlight and that support floating plants. The Eastern Pondhawk is one of our most abundant and widespread dragonflies in Illinois.
When and where do they breed and nest? At the start of the breeding season, male Eastern Pondhawks establish territories, which females visit to mate and lay eggs. Females lay up to 900 eggs and drop their fertilized eggs into the water. They choose calm, warmer waters as there are fewer potential predators there that might eat hatching young. Then, the larvae (naiads) grow by feeding on other aquatic insects until they mature. The resulting larvae remain under water until ready to emerge and transform into adults. Then, they crawl onto land and molt into their adult form.
Where do they migrate? They do not migrate.
Do they make any interesting sounds? No.
Interesting Facts About the Eastern Pondhawk:
Eastern Pondhawks are in the Skimmer family (Libellulidae) - a large group of common, often-flashy, mostly-pond-dwelling dragonflies.
Eastern Pondhawks are also known regionally by Common Pondhawk, Green Dragon, Green Jacket Skimmer, and Green Jacket.
In defending their territories, male Eastern Pondhawks respond to visual cues (i.e., the color of the “intruder”) not its flight pattern or behavior.
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, dragonflies are aquatic and eat just about anything—tadpoles, mosquitoes, fish, other insect larvae and even each other.
Nearly all of the dragonfly’s head is eye, so they have incredible vision that encompasses almost every angle except right behind them.
For more information on the Eastern Pondhawk 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, Iowa State University's Guide, U.S. National Park Service, Wisconsin Odonata Survey and University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee Field Station.
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!