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Shadow Darner (Aeshna umbrosa)

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

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Image Credit: Dave E., taken in Swaledale, IA
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A darker dragonfly compared to others, the Shadow Darner may be harder to see at night when its does its best hunting.

Updated: 08/03/2023; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Many dragonflies boast medleys of bright colors with bands on the long abdomen. The Shadow Darner is less conspicuous. Though it has green and blue coloring, it is less abundant. The overall darkness of the insect gives it an advantage when it hunts at dusk. It cannot escape its large size and flight noise, but its less obvious coloring can make it harder for flying insects prey to see it coming. Besides black, green and blue are the only other colors seen on the body, and individuals may be more blue than green. The eyes are rimmed in green or blue, and the area between the wings is studded with color. Small, tight dashes of color sit at the top of each abdominal segment. A thin blue band sits at the 'waist' like a belt. Diagonal stripes on the side of the thorax are green or green-blue. A single pane in the glassy wings is filled in with orange color.

Shadow Darners are active from spring through autumn. Females use an ovipositor to deposit fertilized eggs in soggy wood. Look for them in the summer near ponds, swamps, and woody banks of lakes where trees and logs are likely to be saturated with water.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Striped or banded insect icon

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Odonata
        Family: Aeshnidae
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          Genus: Aeshna
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            Species: umbrosa

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Aeshna umbrosa
Category: Dragonfly or Damselfly
Size (Adult; Length): 70mm to 75mm (2.75" to 2.95")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black; yellow; blue; green; orange
Descriptors: green eye rim; green back; blue waist band; thick tail; yellow green dashes; flying; large; big; dragonfly

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 70mm (2.8in) and 75mm (3.0in)
Lo: 70mm
Md: 72.5mm
Hi: 75mm

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 Shadow 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 Shadow Darner. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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