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…

10 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. =)

  5. 7 mthew May 9, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    Reblogged this on Backyard and Beyond and commented:

    In celebration of Prospect Park’s 150th year, I’m reposting some discoveries from the archives. Unexpected dragonflies:

  6. 8 elwnyc May 10, 2017 at 9:11 am

    I’m enjoying seeing this all over again!

  1. 1 Darners | Backyard and Beyond Trackback on September 13, 2017 at 7:01 am
  2. 2 life and death | Backyard and Beyond Trackback on July 18, 2021 at 8:00 am

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