Sunday, April 25, 2010


I began working on dragonfly identification last summer. My strategy is to get shots of every dragonfly I see. I then sit with the computer image before me and my reference books to the side and try to match the image to the descriptions. Dragonflies are a wonderful group to study. They are beautiful creatures, their habits and life histories are fascinating and best of all, you can get references and identification guides that allow you to identify the adult form of every species you are likely to see in your area. This Blue Corporal was my first encounter of the year.

The Blue Corporal is one of several species where the males change colors as they mature. This is the coloration of pattern or the female or the young male. Considered an uncommon species in Ohio, there is speculation that it is one of those species that is expanding its range northward. I found them everywhere in the prairies and barrens.

The shadows on the rock make it appear that this individual has an extra set of wings. This species spent a lot of time perching on the ground and never moved very far when disturbed. That describes the behavior of most of the dragonflies I’ve identified so far. I’ve seen many other interesting species, but they seem to spend all of their time in the air and I can’t get a picture.

I think of antiques when I see this species. The browns give the appearance of age and the abdomen looks as if it was of a special wood carefully carved, painted and preserved. This is the Springtime Darner, a common species that may be able to utilize the Blue Jay Barrens creek during their aquatic phase. Lack of reliable surface water here is a definite limiting factor for successful dragonfly reproduction.

Wing venation is one of the important characteristics that allows you to be certain of your identification. Fortunately, in the majority of species it’s fairly easy to see the veins in photographs. It can still get confusing. In this individual the venation indicates that it should be a female, but the restriction in the abdomen is indicative of a male. Well, I’m satisfied for now just to be able to figure out the species.


  1. Love dragonflies!! I have been mowing the lawn in early evening and been just bomb-barded with them. It great---what I have been told they catching mosquitos or blackflies???? We have a cute little redish and green winged ones--plus some big ones near the pond---haven't got a clue what there names are---I just like them!!:>

  2. I sometimes get the same kind of crowd when I mow. Dragonflies will eat any insect small enough for them to catch. I like to watch them in the evening when the setting sun makes all the insect wings shine. Then it's easy to see the dragonflies picking off all those smaller guys.