Anax walsinghami

Giant Darner is one of the largest dragonflies in the world. Manolis (2003) gives the maximum length and wingspan of males as 120mm (4.5 inches). It is almost always seen in flight, as males patrol hundreds of yards of river, searching for females who visit briefly to mate. Although generally colored like Common Green Darner, Giant Darner is much larger and its long abdomen is held in a noticeable arc in flight (right).
all photos 26 Aug 2006 Arroyo Seco River

Manolis (2003) describes the behavior this way: "Males fly long beats down stream courses, returning to the same spot only after a long interval. They are extremely wary. When females arrive at the stream, they are quickly captured and carried off in high, rapid flight." In the photo just above, the dragon has noticed a small fly, turned its head to aim at it while using its legs to break its course, and will snatch it up in flight.

This discussion fits the situation in Monterey County. To date, Giant Darner has only been seen patrolling long stretches of the Arroyo Seco River, well downstream of Arroyo Seco Recreation Area and near the where road G16 crosses the river. The species was first discovered here on 19 July 2004 by Rob Fowler & Steve Rovell. Two males were seen here on 15 July 2006 (S. Rovell) and these photos were taken 26 Aug 2006 (D. Roberson, Rita Carratello).

The map shows the only known spot for Giant Darner in MTY: along the Arroyo Seco River. It may occur over larger rivers and streams elsewhere, but presumably only those bordered by nice riparian habitat. The Arroyo Seco runs at a strong current where this darner has been observed, and that may be an additional quality needed.

In MTY, flight dates so far range from 15 July-26 Aug. Elsewhere in California, Giant Darner flies from April to September (Manolis 2003).

Literature cited:
  • Manolis, T. 2003. Dragonflies and Damselflies of California. Univ. of Calif. Press, Berkeley.
Web resources:
Major identification web sites with much information on California odes include: For sites with excellent photos to compare for identification or to simply enjoy, see: Many of these sites have links to other useful pages. Kathy Biggs's site is particularly useful in her selection of links.

All photos © Don Roberson 2007


Page created 10 Mar 2007