Minnesota Dragonfly

Plains Emerald

Somatochlora ensigera

The Plains Emerald is a Somatochlora, or striped emerald, with metallic green eyes, a yellow face, and two unequal yellow stripes on the thorax. Typically associated with the western plains, in Minnesota they can be found around slow moving streams in fields or forests


Field Marks
  • Average adult size is approximately 2.0 inches
  • Yellow face with metallic green on top of frons and metallic emerald eyes
  • Brown thorax mixed with metallic green with two unequal yellow spots
  • Front spot more of a dash and is pale yellow, the back spot is brighter yellow and mostly oval shaped
  • There is a third yellow spot on abdominal segment 2, with a bit of yellow on segment 3 also
  • Abdominal segments 4 through 10 are black and mostly unmarked, except for faint broken rings between the segments 8 through 10
  • Short, dark terminal appendage turn down at the tip, with a small tooth on the mid underside of the cerci and one on top, pointing out from the back where the cerci bends, the cerci's just a little longer than the epiproct

Click on photos above for a close-up view.

Natural History


Males are very territorial and patrol until late in the day, typically flying low along stream banks and frequently stopping to hover. They usually hunt flying insects, well above netting reach, not far from the water. When not in flight they usually hang from vegetation overhanging the water


Slow-moving streams and small rivers flowing through fields or forests


Females lay their eggs above the water line typically in clay or gravel banks. May also oviposit directly in shallow pools beneath over hanging vegetation

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.