Minnesota Dragonfly

Variable Darner

Aeshna interrupta

The Variable Darner is a common mosaic darner of the Northern United States and Canada. Thoracic stripes are varied, ranging from thin stripes, to a pair of dots connected with a line, to each stripe broken into a pairs of dashes. It is often hard to see the stripes on males in flight


Field Marks
  • Average adult size is approximately 2.9 inches
  • Variable Darners come in a variety of different forms
  • Dark blue eyes
  • Greenish-yellow face with a bold crossline and a heavy t-spot
  • Thoracic stripes are usually thin and can be straight, can have spots on top and bottom with a thin line connecting them (like a barbell), or each stripe can be two separate dashes
  • Side stripes are either all blue or blue on the top and yellow on the bottom
  • Blue spots on abdomen with the side of segment 3 being mostly blue
  • Paddle style claspers

Click on photos above for a close-up view.

Field Marks
  • Females come in three different color forms
  • Green form has yellow thoracic stripes and green abdominal spots
  • Yellow form is all yellow with darker wings
  • Blue form is all blue and is more rare than the other forms

Click on photos above for a close-up view.

Natural History


Males typically patrol the shoreline, flying low at the edge of where the open water meets vegetation, across a defined territory looking for females. Will join in mixed feeding swarms in the evening often hunting past sunset


Lakes and ponds, especially those with boggy edges, and slow streams. Usually found breeding in more acidic wetlands


Pairs can often be seen in wheel or in tandem. Females lay eggs in submerged or floating vegetation, often resting on branches or logs while ovipositing into submerged plant stems.

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.