Eastern Pondhawk

A large, four-winged insect perched on the ground.
Eastern pondhawks often perch on the ground or flat rocks.

NPS/Gordon Dietzman

Introduction

These dragonflies are arguably the most aggressive of the dragonflies that live in the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. Fortunately, they are aggressive to only other insects and don't bother people.

Often these dragonflies will dart out from their perches, grab insect prey, and then fly to some convenient spot to eat it. These dragonflies are equiped with long leg spines that form an effective "basket" in which to hold their prey securely. They will prey on very large insects, including other dragonflies their same size!

Will they bite people? Eastern pondhawks, like other dragonflies, are not aggressive towards people and an observer shouldn't worry about being bitten by these powerful insect predators. However, any dragonfly will bite when being handled, including the eastern pondhawk. Most dragonflies are too small though to actually penetrate the human skin, but some of the larger ones could draw blood if given enough time and some can pinch surprisingly hard!

Watch Behavior

Two males often fly across the water's surface, one following the other just inches apart. Periodically, the lead dragonfly will fall back and allow the other male to take the lead.

 
A large, four-winged, green insect with black markings perched on a grass blade.
NPS/Gordon Dietzman

Female eastern pondhawk dragonfly. Note the difference between the male at the top of the page and this female.

Identification

Key ID Features: Adult males are powder-blue over entire abdomen and thorax. Females are spectacularly green with black markings on abdomen.

Present in Park: Late May through early September. Common in some areas. Pickerel Lake in Lilydale Regional Park is a very good spot.

Habitat: Ponds and lakes.

Last updated: December 4, 2017

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

111 E. Kellogg Blvd., Suite 105
Saint Paul, MN 55101

Phone:

(651) 293-0200
This is the general phone line at the Mississippi River Visitor Center. Please leave a voicemail if we miss your call and expect a return call within 1 day, often sooner.

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