A Blue-eyed Visitor

It’s been a busy month so it was great to have a bit of downtime this afternoon in the backyard garden enjoying the sun and a cold beer to celebrate the end of the teaching year. Both of the kids were out in the yard and I was nominally on child minding duty when I spotted a dragonfly basking on our garden fence.

Blue-eyed Darner (Rhionaeschna multicolor)
A Blue-eyed Darner (Rhionaeschna multicolor) basking on the fence in the late afternoon sun.

We often get dragonflies passing through even though we don’t have a permanent water source like a pond that would be suitable for the nymph stage of the dragonfly life cycle. I guess that there are so many insects in the garden that it makes for a bit of a buffet.

Blue-eyed Darner (Rhionaeschna multicolor)
A closer look at the eyes of the Blue-eyed Darner (Rhionaeschna multicolor) – not quite the typical sky-blue colour yet.

The dragonfly turned out to be a fresh Blue-eyed Darner (Rhionaeschna multicolor). The eyes aren’t quite the sky-blue that is diagnostic but the face has that pale blue colour that is typical with this species and makes it easy to identify visually in the field. To be sure, you need to look a the side stripes and the upper appendage at the base of the long abdomen.

Blue-eyed Darner (Rhionaeschna multicolor)
Take a close look at the back part of the abdomen of the Blue-eyed Darner (Rhionaeschna multicolor) in profile – can you see the little hook?

With a little close observation, another field mark was clearly visible. Note the distinctive hook on the upper appendages at the base of the abdomen in the picture above. It’s a easier to see in the photograph below.

Blue-eyed Darner (Rhionaeschna multicolor) appendage
Here’s a closer look at the upper appendage of the Blue-eyed Darner (Rhionaeschna multicolor). This is the only dragonfly in British Columbia that has this shaped hook.

This darner was very cooperative and allowed me to photograph it from several different angles. Normally I prefer to catch and release in order to get a close enough look that allows me to both identify and photograph the insect. This time I didn’t have to!

Blue-eyed Darner (Rhionaeschna multicolor)
The Blue-eyed Darner (Rhionaeschna multicolor) moved to a slightly more colourful and private perch on some garden flowers.

It’s amazing how many different living creatures you can attract to your yard simply by providing suitable habitat! Our backyard garden has been a delight as both a source of organic fresh food and as the stage for a diverse number of insects. I can hardly wait to discover what will stop in next!

For more information about dragonflies in British Columbia check out our Amazon Field Guide store. I’ve linked to three great dragonfly field guides in the insect section of the store.