Swamp Darner

Epiaeschna herosA female Swamp Darner (Epiaeschna heros), one of the largest dragonflies in the east. A migratory species, averaging 3.4″ long. This is my first sighting. Epiaeschna herosI watched her deposit eggs into pieces of lumber that edged a portion of the Vale of Cashmere. All the other species of dragonflies I’ve seen deposit their eggs in water. The first picture posted above was taken during a pause between deposits. When she returned to planting eggs, she was attached by a Cat Bird who zoomed out of the bushes. Something of a dog-fight ensued, on the ground and in the air. The dragonfly escaped, twice, but the bird suddenly hopped into the bushes and then emerged, flying off with the long insect. A big meal for the bird; when it flew off it looked like the prey had been de-winged. Extraordinary to be so close to the scene. Luckily for E. heros in general, though, a good number of eggs had been planted.Epiaeschna herosA few minutes later, I noticed another depositing her eggs into a piece of water-logged rotten wood on the bottom of the Vale’s erstwhile pool.Epiaeschna herosHere’s a close-up of the thorn-like ovipositor cutting in. (Still wowing myself over this action shot, btw.) The wing-like structures are the cerci, or anal appendages. I don’t know what their function is. When I first saw them — huge dragonfly, huge cerci, at least on this species — I thought some other insect was biting the dragonfly’s terminal appendage. Epiaeschna herosDragonfly sex makes the birds, bees, and Weiners all look like amateurs. In the latter case, of course…

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6 Responses to “Swamp Darner”


  1. 1 Elizabeth July 27, 2013 at 9:05 am

    Great pictures!

  2. 2 Pam (@pamanormal_gal) July 27, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    I love the photos. We have Swamp Darners here in Middle Tennessee, but I’ve never been able to get good photos of them – they NEVER want to land on anything! :)

    • 3 mthew July 27, 2013 at 2:21 pm

      Like Common Darners, rarely ever still. But breeding season means they have to slow down a bit, making them vulnerable to photographers and Catbirds.

  3. 4 Jean August 8, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    Thanks for the pictures — just saw a swamp darner trying to get into my office window on the 50th floor, downtown Manhattan! Beautiful animal, thanks for helping me identify it.

  4. 6 biobabbler August 8, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    Fabulous shots. And I LOVE the idea of using “terminal appendage” for a WAY more polite way to refer to someone being, shall we say, less than their best self. =)


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