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Blue Corporal Dragonfly (What Time is it in Nature)

April 18, 2015

Spring has returned to Prairie Ridge and you can once again see insects out and about on the grounds!  Eastern Carpenter Bees are excavating nests and Black Swallowtail caterpillars have started to appear in the garden.  Near the pond, you can find a variety of dragonflies flying around.  One species of dragonfly you are most likely to spot in the spring, the Blue Corporal (Ladona deplanata).

Blue corporal adult

Blue Corporals are one of the first dragonfly species we find near the pond every year.  They are small by dragonfly standards, about 1.5 inches long.  When they first emerge as adults in the spring, they are brown with hairy thoraxes and yellow markings on the sides of their abdomen.  Over time, the males will develop a waxy layer over their thorax and abdomen that will turn them a deep blue color.  Both males and females have black markings at the base of their wings.

Like other dragonflies, Blue Corporals spend most of their lives in water.  After mating, females deposit their eggs in the water.  The nymphs that result are important pond predators, eating other insects and small tadpoles and helping control their populations.  After they have molted several times and grown to the proper size, they will crawl out of the water, break open their last nymphal exoskeleton, pull their body and new wings out, and become adults on land.  Blue Corporals are hunters as adults as well, whizzing about the shores alongside ponds in search of insects to eat.

Blue Corporals are one of the earliest dragonflies to emerge throughout much of their range and are often gone by late May or early June.  You’ll often see them perched on logs in ponds or on the shoreline, with males fighting vigorously for the best positions.  You can also find them sitting on the ground in open areas near the water or basking in the sunny patches on roads, buildings, or tree trunks.

On your next visit to Prairie Ridge, take a stroll down to the pond and look for dragonflies.  You’re most likely to see newly emerged Blue Corporals flying weakly over the grass along the shore.  Soon we’ll start to see blue individuals around the grounds, hunting insects and adding a splash of color to the increasingly green landscape!

What Time is it in Nature is a weekly feature highlighting the current plants, animals, and other wildlife at the Museum’s public outdoor facility, Prairie Ridge EcostationFind out more about the natural happenings at Prairie Ridge at our What Time is it in Nature Archive!

(Photos by Chris Goforth)

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