Wild Profile: meet the green darner

Published: October 30, 2018

By Paul Sparks/Shutterstock

Large, speedy, and ubiquitous, green darner dragonflies can hang around cottage country well into the fall before migrating. Have you seen them? They often travel in swarms, flying between seven and 18 km/h, headed south. Unlike many other native dragonflies, most green darners don’t overwinter in Canada.

Dragonflies can see in almost all directions, have better colour vision than humans, and can detect ultraviolet light. In other words, they have great eyesight, and green darners are no exception. Their eyes have about 30,000 separate lenses, and they can identify objects from 15 metres away. (That’s pretty good for a bug.) This keen vision, plus their fantastic agility—they can fly up, down, sideways, and backwards, plus hover helicopter-style—makes them skilled hunters. They prey on butterflies, moths, midges, mosquitoes, and other dragonflies.

Green darners are also swift, and can rocket up to 60 km/h, which is almost as fast as a broad-winged hawk. At slower speeds you’ll probably notice them, partially because of their impressive size (about seven or eight centimetres in length), their green and electric-blue bodies, and their shape: they look like darning needles.

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