Minnesota Dragonfly

Shadow Darner

Aeshna umbrosa

The Shadow Darner is a dark dragonfly with thin, straight thoracic stripes, that look like 7s, and small abdominal spots. Males are one of two darner species with a spike on the end of the claspers. Shadow Darners prefer darkness and shadows over direct sunlight more than other species of darners


Field Marks
  • Average adult size is approximately 2.9 inches
  • Male's eyes are greenish-blue
  • No crossline on the face
  • Thoracic stripes are thin and straight
  • The front thoracic stripe may taper towards the top
  • Thoracic stripes typically have a rearward flag, often making them look like the number 77
  • Abdominal top spots are small with pale spots on the bottom of the abdomen
  • Wedge style claspers with a rearward pointing spike

Click on photos above for a close-up view.

Field Marks
  • Female Shadow Darners come in two forms, a green-form which has brown eyes and green markings on the thorax and abdomen and a blue-form which has bluish eyes, green thoracic stripes and blue abdominal spots
  • Female's Cerci are longer than segments 9 and 10 combined, rounded at the tip and often broken off in mature adults

Click on photos above for a close-up view.

Similar Species

Lance-tipped Darner: The Shadow Darner and Lance-tipped Darner are the only two Darners in Minnesota that have a spike extending from the cerci of the male's claspers. The Shadow Darner is typically a bit larger but this is usually only noticeable in a side by side comparison. Shadow Darners are typically found in dark shadowed habitats where Lance-tipped Darners prefer the sun.

Click on the photo to see side by side comparisons of the two species.

Black-tipped Darner: Shadow Darners and Black-tipped Darners both look darker than other darners because they have thin, straight thoracic stripes and small abdominal spots. Some Shadow Darners do not have spots on abdominal segment 10 which is one of the primary field marks of the Black-tipped Darner. Males can be distinguished by the spike extending from the cerci of the Shadow Darner's claspers, which Black-tipped darners do not posses.

Click on the photo to see side by side comparisons of the two species.

Natural History


Shadow Darners are more at home in the shade than other darners. They can often be found hunting in forest opeings and around woodland edges. They are usually seen later in the day and will fly until it is too dark to see them. Males spend a good amount of time patrolling for females and can often be seen hovering over the water.


Slow streams, lakes, ponds, bogs, marshes. Most often found in shady areas.


Males patrol territory looking for females, which they grab in flight. Females typically oviposit eggs into floating logs, rotting stumps or earthy banks. The cerci often break off while the female is ovipositing

Range Maps

Click on the icons above for this species' range maps

Click here for county and state checklists from Odonata Central.

Range maps and checklists courtesy of Odonata Central. Copyright © 2016 OdonataCentral. All Rights Reserved. Abbott, J.C. 2006-2018. OdonataCentral: An online resource for the distribution and identification of Odonata. Available at www.odonatacentral.org.