Location: Northern Saskatchewan, Canada
November 26, 2011 11:15 am
Hey, bugman! I’ve noticed a distinct deficit in dragon-fly related request so I thought I’d send in this big fellow. I live in northern Saskatchewan, Canada and these huge guys are incredibly common in the swampy north. I am currently further up south and I haven’t been seeing too much of them. They are almost always blue in coloration, although I have noticed a very occasional greenish variation on the same species (they are identical lest the color). They boom in the summer months (beginning in June and fading out by August), and almost blacken the sky during years with high mosquito populations. I’ve noticed that you do not get many requests from Canada and I am certain that we get some very strange insects in the north of Saskatchewan which may have never been called to your attention before. Anyhow, an ID on this fellow would be lovely, thanks!
Signature: Grace P
Thanks for your submission. We believe the pictured individual is a male Variegated Meadowhawk, Sympetrum corruptum, and since the species is sexually dimorphic, the color variations you describe might be explained by the sex of the individual. Also, it is possible that when mosquitoes are abundant, more than one species of Dragonfly may be enjoying the bounty. You can see some of the species variations on BugGuide.
Thanks guys, this is very interesting. I have one final question, however! The variegated meadowhawks pictured on bugguide are most certainly present in the same ecosystem as the blue fellow that I sent in, but I have noted that they are considerably smaller. They are very similar to the larger blue meadowhawks in terms of the way that their anatomy is set up but they are perhaps two inches in length, whereas the blue/green variation meadowhawk seems to peak at three and a half or four inches in length. Is it possible that these different coloration/sizes could denote different stages in the development of the same species, or would this mean that they are different all together? If it were summer I would have no problem taking pictures to better illustrate this, but alas it is November and twenty-six below. What is your opinion on this matter? Thanks!
Hi again Grace,
We have to confess that we often do not feel confident with Dragonfly identifications. We would suggest posting a comment to this posting to see if a correction comes in sometime in the future. Dragonflies do undergo a teneral or immature winged stage, but they change color as they mature. They do not change size. There is often individual variation in the size of adults within a species as well. Also, we did not receive an image of a blue Dragonfly in your original email, only the brick red image that we posted. Perhaps the species you have described are Darners in the family Aeshnidae (see BugGuide), which includes the Canadian Darner, Aeshna canadensis (see BugGuide). The individual in your photo seems more reddish, but the markings do look quite similar to the Canada Darner, especially this image on BugGuide.
Hello, and thanks for the quick response again! I realize now that the image does not make the coloration abundantly clear; what appears to be red (due to the lighting) is more of a soft brown in reality and there is a pattern of blue, as well. After looking around a bit, you are indeed correct in identifying this fellow as a Canadian Darner. The coloration is exactly the same and the pattern is spot-on. I had also noted a small black mark at the front of each wing which my dragonfly also has. Also, his eyes were a lovely green which seems to be characteristic of Canadian Darners. Thank you very much, now I know!