Green Darner

Anax junius

Copyright, J. L. Laswell

Green Darners are one of our largest dragonflies, and one of the easiest to recognize. Their bodies grow over three inches long, with a wingspan of 4 1/2 inches.

Green Darners are dimorphic, which means males and females look different. Both sexes have a green thorax (middle section of body), but males have a blue abdomen (long back part of body), while females' abdomens are purplish-gray.

Both males and females have a mark like a target on their faces. Green Darners' eyes are brown.

Green Darners are found around ponds, lakes, marshes, and slow-moving streams.

Copyright, Stuart Tingley

Huntley Meadows Park

Copyright, Jim Roetzel

When Green Darners mate, the male chases and catches the female, before inserting the tip of his abdomen behind the females head (see first photo).

The female then goes to where plants grow from water and, while clinging to the stem of a plant, she backs slowly into the water.

She will make a slit in the stem of the plant and lay her eggs inside.

Steve Valley

Dragonfly larvae are called naiads. Naiads of Green Darners are dark greenish-brown and will eventually grow two inches long.

Naiads are ferocious predators and will attack just about anything smaller than them, and even some creatures that are larger. They eat many aquatic insects, tadpoles, aquatic worms, and small fish. They also eat small animals that are washed into the water, such as earthworms.

Naiads will molt several times, shedding their outer shell and growing bigger each time. When they are ready for a final molt, the naiads crawl out of the water on a plant stem. Then they emerge from their shell as an adult.

Patricia Sutton

Adult Green Darners eat many flying insects, even away from the water. Some of their prey includes: mosquitos, midges, caddisflies, wasps, butterflies, bees, and other dragonflies.

Besides being one of the biggest dragonflies, Green Darners are one of the fastest. In late Summer, they migrate south in huge numbers. Unlike birds, which migrate back in the Spring, dragonflies go only one way. However, the Green Darners' offspring will return north.

Naiads that are still in the water when cold weather comes will stay and overwinter. They will leave the water to become adults in the Spring.

Green Darners will mate in the air, on the ground, or hanging from the branch of a bush or tree.

Their coloration helps them camouflage on green plants, such as the Eastern Redcedar in the picture to the right.

Patricia Sutton

Copyright, University of Minnesota

Royal British Columbia Museum

To catch prey, the naiads of Green Darners have a mouthpart, called a labium, which is folded under the head.

When the naiad approaches its prey, the labium swings forward and grabs it.

Dragonflies are eaten by animals which can catch them. This is difficult for most, because of the dragonflies' speed. Hawks and other large birds prey on dragonflies, as well as fish from below the surface. Dragonfly naiads are eaten by large fish, crayfish, and water birds, among others.

Mark Moran

Additional Media

Unidentified Dragonfly Naiad Attacking Worm
Virginia Tech Entomology Department
Green Darner Coloring Page
Link to Printable Page
Key to Identifying Green Darners
Link to Gloria Mundi's Dragonfly Gallery

Relationships in Nature:


Honey Bee

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Common Cattail

Beaver SP

Eastern Yellow Jacket

Red-tailed Hawk

Common Duckweed

Golden Northern Bumble Bee

Largemouth Bass

Eastern Redcedar

Eastern Dobsonfly


Black Willow

Asian Tiger Mosquito

Black Crappie


Clouded Sulphur

Red-winged Blackbird

American Sycamore

Cabbage White

Big Brown Bat

Yellow Pond Lily

Spring Peeper

Barred Owl


Aquatic Worm

Yellow Perch

Common Reed

Ebony Jewelwing

Eastern Newt

Tussock Sedge

Crane Fly

Tesselated Darter

Green Algae

Freshwater Leech

Large Diving Beetle

Lizard's Tail

Eastern Newt

Golden Shiner

Long-leaf Pondweed

Tesselated Darter

Eastern Painted Turtle


Dogwood Borer

Ebony Jewelwing

Greater Bladderwort

Large Diving Beetle

Wood Duck

Marsh Bulrush

Stagnant Pond Snail

Common Carp


Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Yellow Bullhead

Arrow Arum

Painted Lady

CommonWater Strider

Wild Rice

Eastern Mosquitofish

Northern Hog Sucker

Relationship to Humans:

Green Darners and other dragonflies are a great help to people. Besides being beautiful to look at, they eat huge amounts of insects, such as mosquitos and flies.


Anax junius


Organism Menu
Student Activities
Classification Info
How to Use This Site