Aeshna umbrosa

Shadow Darner

Aeshna umbrosa, Shadow Darner face

Family: Aeshnidae

Length: 70 - 75 mm


The shadow darner takes its name from its preference for woodland habitats, where it flies in shadowed areas and in dappled light. Look for it at forest creeks and alongside shaded ditches, ponds, and pools.

Late in the year (October or November) or late in the day (dusk) these may be the only dragonflies patrolling. Note, though, that they are also seen earlier in the year and earlier in the day.

As with other mosaic darners, so in this species the lateral thoracic stripes are important for identifications. In shadow darner these two stripes are relatively straight. The stripes are yellowish on the ventral end, and green or blue at the dorsal end.

On males, the cerci are wedge-shaped.

On the rearmost abdominal segment (S10) spots are usually lacking or obscure.

The abdominal spots of shadow darners are not as large or colorful as in some of the other members of genus Aeshna.

Males and females are similar in this species, but the females’ markings are duller than those of the male. The wings of females are often tinted with brown.

Aeshna umbrosa, Shadow Darner female

Dorsal view of the female shadow darner. Note the brown-tinted wings. Pleasant Creek WMA, Barbour County, West Virginia, 21 August 2006.


Aeshna umbrosa, Shadow Darner cerci

The apex of the abdomen of a female shadow darner. Often one or both of the cerci are broken off, but on this individual both are intact.


Aeshna umbrosa, Shadow Darner in flight

This male patrolled all day, up and down a tiny stream at Dolly Sods Wilderness, Tucker County, West Virginia. 7 September 2003.


Aeshna umbrosa in flight, Maryland

Hovering flight at Finzel Swamp Preserve, Garrett County, Maryland.