Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Canada Darner

Canada Darner at rest - Photo by Marcie Callewaert
The BCFDC is well known for its trains and trucks, but it also has a great deal of wildlife on site. The Canada Darner is a dragonfly species that many of you will be familiar with appearance wise. It has a brilliant blue colouring and the most amazing eyes you have ever seen! This one was spotted yesterday resting in the hot sun on the road past the Logging Camp, heading towards the Ranger Station.

"A Canada Darner (male) showing the hunting equipment of a darner--powerful thorax and wings (for fast and agile flight); large compound eyes (for tracking moving prey); and spiny legs (for capturing prey in flight). The colour and shape of the lateral thoracic stripes are important clues for species identification.

Even the smallest of our darners is over five centimetres long, and all are striped on the thorax and spotted on the abdomen with blue, green or yellow. Males almost always have blue abdominal spots. Females vary considerably, and in most species there are two or even three colour forms, one like the male, and others more green or yellow. For species identification, the colour of the face is useful, especially in males, and so is the colour of the horizontal line across the face. The shape and colour of the stripes on the sides of the thorax (lateral thoracic stripes) are critical. The shape of the terminal abdominal appendages in both the male and female, and the structure of the ovipositor (egg-laying organ) in the female are also important."  (http://www.royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/Natural_History/Insects-and-Relatives.aspx?id=258)

Old folklore behind the interesting name, Darner, can be found in this explanation:
"Darners probably got their name from the old superstition that they sew up the lips of naughty boys with their long slender abdomens -- the devil's darning needles. The origin of the name Aeshna, coined by the famous Danish entomologist Fabricius in the 18th century, is also lost in history. One intriguing explanation is that it's a printer's error for the Greek Aechma, a spear" (Cannings & Stuart 1977).

They are brilliant creatures and if you want a good place to spot one on your own, come and check out the Somenos Marsh trail one morning. Don't forget about our photo contest too! If you get an awesome photo on site, pick up an entry form in admissions. We want to see what you have seen on our amazingly multi-faceted site!

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