Wisconsin Odonata Survey


Anax longipes  Hagen, 1861
Comet Darner

Aeshnidae, Darner Family
"Most Wanted" Species

The green darners (genus Anax) are large, robust, strong-flying and often migratory. Two species are known to occur in Wisconsin, one is very common, the other rare and possibly just an accidental stray. Both are easy to identify, even in flight.


Global: G5     Wisconsin: SNA    

Distinguishing Characteristics:

This is a very large, strikingly colored and therefore unmistakable species. The male is the only darner, and the only large dragonfly in Wisconsin, with a bright red abdomen and green thorax. The female also has a green thorax and a reddish-brown abdomen with a mottled pattern of paler spots. The female can only be confused with a female common green darner, but is readily separated from that species by the absence of a "bulls-eye" pattern on top of the forehead and lack of a dark stripe along the top of the abdomen.

Description of Habitat/Range:

Found in the eastern and southern United States, this species favors grassy ponds and borrow pits having few or no centrarchid fishes (primarily sunfishes [genus Lepomis] and black basses [genus Micropterus]). It has been observed only a few times at a few sites in Wisconsin where it is probably an accidental species that does not occur every year. Wisconsin is beyond the northwestern tip of its established range.

Flight Season:

Its flight season is from early May to early September in New Jersey.

Shading illustrates monthly percentages of the total flight season records for the species. Each flight season record is a unique date/location/observer combination where one or more adult or an exuvia was recorded (excludes nymphs). The actual number of flight season records for each month is shown in parentheses.

Flight seasons begin earlier in the southern part of the state, often by a week or more. Also, flight charts may not be accurate for rare species because of few data available.
View user-submitted photos

(Click on photos to enlarge)
Photo of Male comet darner
Male comet darner. © Dan Jackson

Photo of Male comet darner
Male comet darner. © Dennis Paulson

Photo of Female comet darner
Female comet darner. © Dennis Paulson

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