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Giant Darner (Anax walsinghami)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Giant Darner

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Image Credit: Nathan C. from Vancouver, WA
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Image Credit: Valerie S., taken in Austin, TX
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Image Credit: Peter S., taken in Acton, MA
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Image Credit: Hugo B., taken in Hinkley, CA
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The longest and largest dragonfly in the U.S., the beneficial and beautiful Giant Darner is hard to miss.

Updated: 12/27/2023; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The Giant Darner is hailed as the largest example of dragonfly found in the United States of America. This dragonfly can measure about 5" (12.7 cm) in length with a mighty wide wingspan of up to 5" as well. Highly identifiable by their blue and black coloring, the Giant Darner will not escape your attention when it comes zipping by.

The Giant Darner appears similar to the Common Green Darner and shares its large size and interesting coloring pattern. The Giant Darner differs from the Common Green Darner by having a much longer abdomen. The Giant Darner's abdomen is more than twice the length of its body while the Common Green Darner's 'tail' is about the same length of its body. Giant Darners have a green thorax and the top of the abdomen is bright blue. The brown-black, slender part of the abdomen has bright blue along the dorsal side ('spine'). The long abdomen has a slight curve to it that bends upward. Large eyes are set on a yellow face.

Giant Darners can be found as far south as Mexico and cover portions of the lower western United States. Mating and feeding activity keeps the Giant Darner busy throughout the spring and summer months. Adults eat insects (crawling and flying), graciously helping control the population size of nuisance bugs like mosquitoes and flies. Like most other dragonflies, the Giant Darner lays its eggs in water sources, allowing larvae to burrow into the water source's bottom. These develop into naiads and feed on other aquatic insects as well as small fish and tadpoles. They eventually crawl out of the water onto land in order to molt, a maturing process that leads to their double set of wings.©InsectIdentification.org

Known Diet of the Giant-Darner

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
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Helpful insect icon

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Odonata
        Family: Aeshnidae
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          Genus: Anax
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            Species: walsinghami

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Anax walsinghami
Other Name(s): Darner
Category: Dragonfly or Damselfly
Size (Adult; Length): 90mm to 127mm (3.54" to 5.00")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: green; tan; black; blue
Descriptors: flying; helpful

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 90mm (3.5in) and 127mm (5.0in)
Lo: 90mm
Md: 108.5mm
Hi: 127mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Giant Darner may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Giant Darner. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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