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Canada Darner - Aeshna canadensis
The Canada Darner is a member of the family Aeshnidae. Darners are among the largest and fastest-flying North American dragonflies, 2 1/4-4 3/4" (57-120 mm) long. These brilliant blue, green, or brown insects have large, clear wings spanning up to 5 7/8". Their compound eyes meet on top of the head. The female hovers above water usually attached or guarded by the male and, using a well-developed ovipositor for slicing into emergent plants, thrusts eggs one at a time in the stems. Preferred habitat includes wooded lakes and ponds with abundant vegetation, as well as marshy and boggy lakes, fens, and slow sluggish streams often associated with beaver ponds. Wetland systems: Western Emergent Marsh, Northern Rocky Mountain Wooded Vernal Pool and the Rocky Mountain Subalpine-Montane Fen.
A widespread and common darner found from Alaska south to Arizona east to Newfoundland, in Montana it is found throughout the state in a variety of wetlands and slow streams.
Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations:
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Map Help and Descriptions
(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)
Canada Darners (Aeshna canadensis) prefer wooded lakes and ponds with abundant vegetation, as well as marshy and boggy lakes, fens, and slow sluggish streams often associated with beaver ponds (Dunkle 2000, Nikula et al. 2002, Paulson 2009). Away from breeding sites, Canada Darners often perch vertically on branches or tree trunks. They feed at forest edges, over clearings, open fields, and pastures and are often encountered in swarms (Dunkle 2000, Nikula et al. 2002, Paulson 2009).
Ecological Systems Associated with this Species
- Details on Creation and Suggested Uses and Limitations
How Associations Were Made
We associated the use and habitat quality (common or occasional) of each of the 82 ecological systems mapped in Montana for
vertebrate animal species that regularly breed, overwinter, or migrate through the state by:
- Using personal observations and reviewing literature that summarize the breeding, overwintering, or migratory habitat requirements of each species (Dobkin 1992, Hart et al. 1998, Hutto and Young 1999, Maxell 2000, Foresman 2012, Adams 2003, and Werner et al. 2004);
- Evaluating structural characteristics and distribution of each ecological system relative to the species' range and habitat requirements;
- Examining the observation records for each species in the state-wide point observation database associated with each ecological system;
- Calculating the percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system to get a measure of "observations versus availability of habitat".
Species that breed in Montana were only evaluated for breeding habitat use, species that only overwinter in Montana were only evaluated for overwintering habitat use, and species that only migrate through Montana were only evaluated for migratory habitat use.
In general, species were listed as associated with an ecological system if structural characteristics of used habitat documented in the literature were present in the ecological system or large numbers of point observations were associated with the ecological system.
However, species were not listed as associated with an ecological system if there was no support in the literature for use of structural characteristics in an ecological system, even if
point observations were associated with that system.
Common versus occasional association with an ecological system was assigned based on the degree to which the structural characteristics of an ecological system matched the preferred structural habitat characteristics for each species as represented in scientific literature.
The percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system was also used to guide assignment of common versus occasional association.
If you have any questions or comments on species associations with ecological systems, please contact the Montana Natural Heritage Program's Senior Zoologist.
Suggested Uses and Limitations
Species associations with ecological systems should be used to generate potential lists of species that may occupy broader landscapes for the purposes of landscape-level planning.
These potential lists of species should not be used in place of documented occurrences of species (this information can be requested at: mtnhp.org/requests
) or systematic surveys for species and evaluations of habitat at a local site level by trained biologists.
Users of this information should be aware that the land cover data used to generate species associations is based on imagery from the late 1990s and early 2000s and was only intended to be used at broader landscape scales.
Land cover mapping accuracy is particularly problematic when the systems occur as small patches or where the land cover types have been altered over the past decade.
Thus, particular caution should be used when using the associations in assessments of smaller areas (e.g., evaluations of public land survey sections).
Finally, although a species may be associated with a particular ecological system within its known geographic range, portions of that ecological system may occur outside of the species' known geographic range.
- Adams, R.A. 2003. Bats of the Rocky Mountain West; natural history, ecology, and conservation. Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado. 289 p.
- Dobkin, D. S. 1992. Neotropical migrant land birds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. USDA Forest Service, Northern Region. Publication No. R1-93-34. Missoula, MT.
- Foresman, K.R. 2012. Mammals of Montana. Second edition. Mountain Press Publishing, Missoula, Montana. 429 pp.
- Hart, M.M., W.A. Williams, P.C. Thornton, K.P. McLaughlin, C.M. Tobalske, B.A. Maxell, D.P. Hendricks, C.R. Peterson, and R.L. Redmond. 1998. Montana atlas of terrestrial vertebrates. Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, University of Montana, Missoula, MT. 1302 p.
- Hutto, R.L. and J.S. Young. 1999. Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station RMRS-GTR-32. 72 p.
- Maxell, B.A. 2000. Management of Montana's amphibians: a review of factors that may present a risk to population viability and accounts on the identification, distribution, taxonomy, habitat use, natural history, and the status and conservation of individual species. Report to U.S. Forest Service Region 1. Missoula, MT: Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana. 161 p.
- Werner, J.K., B.A. Maxell, P. Hendricks, and D. Flath. 2004. Amphibians and reptiles of Montana. Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company. 262 p.
Larvae feed on a wide variety of aquatic insects, such as mosquito larvae, other aquatic fly larvae, mayfly larvae, and freshwater shrimp. They will also eat very small fish and tadpoles.
Adult- The dragonfly will eat almost any soft-bodied flying insect including mosquitoes, flies, small moths, mayflies, and flying ants or termites.
Male Canada Darners patrol relatively small territories along the water's edge, often hovering for significant periods before flying into vegetation looking for females. Copulation usually occurs in vegetation near water. Females oviposit (lay eggs) above the waterline in the stalks of emergent vegetation, slicing into the plant with their ovipositor (Dunkle 2000, Nikula et al. 2002, Paulson 2009).
- Literature Cited AboveLegend: View Online Publication
- Dunkle, S.W. 2000. Dragonflies through binoculars: A field guide to dragonflies of North America. New York, NY. Oxford University Press. 266 pp.
- Nikula, B., J. Sones, D.W. Stokes, and L.Q. Stokes. 2002. Stokes beginner's guide to dragonflies and damselflies. Boston: Little, Brown. 159 pp.
- Paulson, D.R. 2009. Dragonflies and Damselflies of the West. Princeton University Press, Princeton. 535 pp.
- Web Search Engines for Articles on "Canada Darner"
- Additional Sources of Information Related to "Insects"