Species: A. Interrupta
The variable darner (Aeshna interrupta) is a dragonfly of the family Aeshnidae. It's named after the distinctive broken stripes on the sides of the thorax of many male specimens.
Darners are among the largest and fastest-flying North American dragonflies, 57-120 mm long. Variable Darners are found state-wide from the mountains to the prairies.
A widespread and common darner found from Alaska south to Arizona east to Newfoundland, in Montana it has been found found throughout the western part of the state in a variety of lakes and wetlands.
Variable Darners are found in many habitats, including a variety of lakes and ponds with dense shoreline vegetation, marshy or boggy ponds, fens, and saline ponds, as well as slow-moving streams .
Away from breeding sites, Variable Darners can be found feeding, sometimes in very large swarms, in mountains clearings, open fields, and along roads. This species often perches vertically on tree trunks, branches, other available vegetation, and sometimes on rocks and the ground.
The mosaic darners of the genus Aeshna (aka blue darners) are large, strong-flying dragonflies with late-season flight periods. Most are similar to each other in size and general coloration, so in-hand examination is usually necessary to identify them. The most important distinguishing characteristics for this genus are the shapes and colors of the pale stripes on the sides of the thorax, especially the first or anterior stripes.
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 Variable Darners patrol small territories and fly through vegetation often hovering and investigating for females. Copulating pairs, as well as tandem pairs, are seen for extended periods of time at breeding sites. Females oviposit on floating sedge and grass stems, upright herbaceous and shrub stems, as well as on wet logs.