Wisconsin Odonata Survey


Epiaeschna heros  (Fabricius, 1798)
Swamp Darner

Aeshnidae, Darner Family
"Most Wanted" Species

This is a very large and unmistakable species in a monotypic genus – one of the largest dragonflies in the United States!


Global: G5     Wisconsin: S2S3    

Distinguishing Characteristics:

This huge, dark brown species has green thoracic stripes, and exceedingly narrow, green abdominal rings. Males have striking blue eyes. Distinguish from large mosaic darners with green on abdomen by presence of very narrow rings on the abdomen of swamp darner, not spots as on mosaic darners, and by the very large size of swamp darner. Cyrano darner is most similar to swamp darner in our area, but Cyrano has much more green on the abdomen and has a noticeably projecting forehead that swamp darner lacks.

Description of Habitat/Range:

This species is common throughout the eastern United States and southeastern Canada. Preferred habitats are shallow, shaded woodland ponds, including those that are sometimes temporary; also some swamps and slow streams. In Wisconsin, it is widespread but local and rarely common at a given site. The population here may be partially migratory. Likely does not coexist well with centrarchid fishes (primarily sunfishes [genus Lepomis] and black basses [genus Micropterus]).

Flight Season:

The flight season is from early June to early September in northern part of its range, but the chances of seeing a swamp darner are best in spring and early summer.

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 swamp darner
Male swamp darner. © Dennis Paulson

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

Photo of Female swamp darner
Female swamp darner. © Freda Van Den Broek

Photo of Close-up of female swamp darner thorax
Close-up of female swamp darner thorax. © Dan Jackson

Photo of Side (top image) and top view of female swamp darner abdomen tip
Side (top image) and top view of female swamp darner abdomen tip. © Dan Jackson

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