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mottled darner

mottled darner (Aeshna clepsydra) [female]
Photo © Mark Kluge

Features and Behaviors

The mottled darner is a medium-large (one and one-half to one and three-quarter inches) dragonfly that wears a spectacular, irregular pattern of blue, light green, and brown. They have brown legs, a robust thorax, and males and females are very similar looking. Males have blue eyes on a blue face, and females have yellow eyes on a yellow face. They are very similar to the azure (Aeshna septentrionalis) and zigzag (Aeshna sitchensis) darners but have more blue than black on the thorax. 

They inhabit lakes and ponds rich in water lilies and arrowhead. They perch on the trunks of trees and forage for midges, other dragonflies, and caddisflies in openings in wooded areas. They can be seen hovering over shorelines and wetlands any time of day, especially afternoon from early June to September in the counties surrounding the Lake Michigan shoreline. Females deposit eggs into mud or sand along plant stems. The larvae are flat-headed, thin-legged crawlers, with stream-lined bodies that inhabit waters with lots of vegetation and submerged tree stumps. 

Illinois Range


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Odonata
Family: Aeshnidae

Illinois Status: common, native