Sunday, February 11, 2018

Comet Darner Dragonfly Habitats: Holiday Green-and-Red Body, Long Legs


Summary: North American comet darner dragonfly habitats get clear, fast-flying, green-edged, narrow, stiff wings, holiday green-and-red bodies and long legs.


male comet darner dragonfly (Anax longipes), Prince William Forest Park, Triangle, southeastern Prince William County, Northern Virginia; June 27, 2017: Judy Gallagher (judygva), CC BY 2.0, via Flickr

North American comet darner dragonfly habitats attract arborists, gardners, naturalists and stewards to grassy, herbaceous distribution ranges from Nova Scotia through Florida, Texas, Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, Ontario, New Hampshire and everywhere in-between.
Comet darners bear their common name for comet tail-reminiscent, red abdominal colors and for knitting needle-shaped abdomens and the scientific name Anax longipes (ruler [is] long-footed). Common names clinch scientific committee consensus in the Dragonfly Society of the Americas, whose 13th Bulletin of American Odonatology considers clubtail names and New Jersey odonates. Descriptions in 1861 by Hermann August Hagen (May 30, 1817-Nov. 9, 1893), collaborator with Russian entomologist Carl Robert Osten-Sacken (Aug. 21, 1838-May 20, 1906), define taxonomies.
Comet darner life cycles expect artificial pools, borrow pits, grassy, semi-permanent, temporary natural ponds and shallow lakes with aquatic and waterside vegetation and usually without fish.

February through November function as earliest to latest flight seasons even though June furnishes wildlife mapping opportunities throughout North America's coastal and inland comet darner niches.
Comet darners go from 9 a.m. to late afternoon on steady patrols of 150-foot (45.72-meter) stretches of lake shores and waterside edges even during cloudy weather. They hold themselves parallel to the grassy blades that they have as resting perches after and subsequent to hastening away from human, and toward invertebrate, intruders. Their food-searching and mate-seeking itineraries involve direct, steady, swift investigations without hovering over banks, edges and shorelines to intercept slightly smaller prey, such as medium-sized odonates.
Ants, biting midges, ducks, falcons, fish, flycatchers, frogs, grebes, lizards, robber flies, spiders, turtles and water beetles and mites jeopardize North American comet darner dragonfly habitats.

Immature comet darners keep to blue- or white-spotted blue abdomens and gray eyes even though adults know blacks, blues, blue-greens, green-browns, red-browns, red-oranges, reds and yellow-greens.
Rod-shaped eggs laid by females through 10- to 20-second oviposits into grassy stems just below waterlines launch hatched larvae, naiads or nymphs incompletely metamorphosing into tenerals. Immature, little adult-like, multi-molting, nonflying stages molt into shiny-winged, tender-bodied, weak-flying tenerals that mature physically and sexually to mate and manage ovipositing throughout one water body. Aphids, beetles, borers, caddisflies, copepods, crane flies, dobsonflies, gnats, leafhoppers, mosquitoes, rotifers, scuds, water fleas and worms nourish green darner members of the Aeshnidae dragonfly family.
North American comet darner dragonfly habitats offer season-coldest temperatures, northward to southward, from minus 45 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 42.11 to minus 1.11 degrees Celsius).

Beech, bellflower, birch, bladderwort, cattail, daisy, grass, greenbrier, heath, laurel, madder, maple, nettle, olive, pepperbush, pine, pondweed, rush, sedge, water-lily and willow families promote comet darners.
Blue or green eyes, clear wings with green leading-edge veins, egg-thickened green-brown or tan-spotted red-brown abdomens and green foreheads and thoraxes qualify as adult female hallmarks. Green- or green-blue-eyed males reveal narrow, stiff wings with green leading-edge veins, green foreheads and thoraxes, long, red-and-black legs, pale side-spotted red abdomens and yellow-green faces. Adults show off 2.95- to 3.42-inch (75- to 87-millimeter) head-body lengths, 1.97- to 2.40-inch (50- to 61-millimeter) abdomens and 1.81- to 2.21-inch (46- to 56-millimeter) hindwings.
Green foreheads and thoraxes, green-edged, narrow, stiff wings, long legs and red abdomens tell comet darners from other odonates in North American comet darner dragonfly habitats.

male comet darner dragonfly (Anax longipes); Riverbend Natural Area, Delhi Charter Township, Ingham County, south central Michigan; June 11, 2017: Don Henise (Kiskadee 3), CC BY 2.0, via Flickr

Acknowledgment
My special thanks to talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the internet.

Image credits:
male comet darner dragonfly (Anax longipes), Prince William Forest Park, Triangle, southeastern Prince William County, Northern Virginia; June 27, 2017: Judy Gallagher (judygva), CC BY 2.0, via Flickr @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/52450054@N04/35189250140/
male comet darner dragonfly (Anax longipes); Riverbend Natural Area, Delhi Charter Township, Ingham County, south central Michigan; June 11, 2017: Don Henise (Kiskadee 3), CC BY 2.0, via Flickr @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/kiskadee_3/35108363582/

For further information:
Abbott, John C. Dragonflies and Damselflies of Texas and the South-Central United States: Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. Princeton NJ; Oxford UK: Princeton University Press, 2005.
"Anax longipes." James Cook University-Medusa: The Odonata - Dragonflies and Damselflies > Anisoptera > Aeshnidae > Anax.
Available via James Cook University-Medusa @ https://medusa.jcu.edu.au/Dragonflies/openset/displaySpecies.php?spid=80
Beaton, Giff. Dragonflies & Damselflies of Georgia and the Southeast. Athens GA; London UK: University of Georgia Press, 2007.
Berger, Cynthia. Dragonflies. Mechanicsburg PA: Stackpole Books: Wild Guide, 2004.
Bright, Ethan. "Anax longipes Hagen, 1861: 118 -- Comet Darner." Aquatic Insects of Michigan > Odonata (Dragon- and Damselflies) of Michigan > Anisoptera Selys, 1854 -- Dragonflies > Aeshnidae Rambur, 1842: 181 (Darners) > Anax Leach, 1815: 137 (Green Darners).
Available @ http://www.aquaticinsects.org/sp/Odonata/sp_oom.html
Hagen, Hermann (August). "2. A. longipes! Anax longipes Hagen." Synopsis of North America, With a List of the South American Species: 118. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections, vol. IV, Art. I. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, July 1861.
Available via Biodiversity Heritage Library @ https://biodiversitylibrary.org/page/1321249
Paulson, Dennis. Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, Princeton Field Guides, 2011.


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