A Lance-tipped Darner Dragonfly Along Algonquin Park’s Mizzy Lake Trail

A Lance-tipped Darner Dragonfly Along Algonquin Park’s Mizzy Lake Trail

lance-tipped darner dragonfly along mizzy lake trail - algonquin park - ontario pic 4

When hiking the Mizzy Lake Trail in Algonquin Provincial Park, we took a lunch break near the top of the loop a short distance beyond Wolf Howl Pond.  Two small ponds made an inviting place to have our picnic lunch, and there was so much activity around the water that we were fully entertained while we ate.  One Lance-tipped Darner Dragonfly (Aeshna constricta) repeatedly landed on a submerged log directly in front of our picnic spot.

wetlands along the mizzy lake trail - algonquin park - ontario pic 5

Bob and I had a humble lunch laid out on a rock beside the still water, and dozens of dragonflies patrolled the surface and around the edges of the pond hoping for their own midday meal.  The day was quite warm with intermittent clouds and a light breeze, and as we took our break, all was quiet except for birdsong filtering through the air from the nearby trees.

lance-tipped darner dragonfly along mizzy lake trail - algonquin park - ontario pic 1

When this dragonfly first lit on the side of a submerged log, we were struck by its size.  These members of the dragonfly family Aeshnidae are big, anywhere from 2.8 – 4.5 inches (7.1 – 11.4 cm) long.  Dragonflies of the Aeshna genus are also known as hawker dragonflies or mosaic darners, and they are some of the most beautiful dragonflies that you will ever see.

lance-tipped darner dragonfly along mizzy lake trail - algonquin park - ontario pic 2

There are about 20 different species of mosaic darner dragonflies in North America, and each species has a distinct colour pattern.  The abdomens of each are patterned with a mosaic of blue, green or grey lines and spots that are also dependent on whether the dragonfly is a male or female.  On the thorax, stripes can vary in size, shape and colour as well.  The females of Lance-tipped Darner Dragonflies occur in three distinct colour variations, either blue, green or yellow, with the blue form being quite rare and yet distinct from the males of the species that are brown with blue markings.

lance-tipped darner dragonfly along mizzy lake trail - algonquin park - ontario pic 5

With the calm water gently lapping against the shore, the dragonfly remained positioned on the soft wood of the rotting log for minutes at a time.  Lance-tipped Darner Dragonflies prefer shallow marshy ponds, slow streams or even the protected edge of a lake or bog, so the habitat provided by the small pond was perfect for this dragonfly’s needs.

lance-tipped darner dragonfly and frog

It wasn’t long before the goings and comings of the dragonfly also drew the attention of a hungry frog.  Slyly sneaking up at its rear, I’m sure the frog considered the dragonfly an easy catch.  This female dragonfly of the yellow form was concentrating on depositing her eggs onto the soft fibers of the broken and water-logged tree trunk, but still seemed fully aware of her surroundings.

lance-tipped darner dragonfly and frog along mizzy lake trail - algonquin park 2

All while the Lance-tipped Darner Dragonfly perched on the log, she kept the end of her abdomen submersed in the water.  The frog bided its time, but in the end, the dragonfly took flight before the frog made a move.  The frog really didn’t stand a chance when you consider that each of the dragonfly’s two large compound eyes is made up of 50,000 wedge-shaped individual eyes.  This is why these powerful insects are so adept at hunting flying insects while they themselves are airborne.

lance-tipped darner dragonfly along mizzy lake trail - algonquin park - ontario pic 3

Lance-tipped Darner Dragonflies are named for the sharply-pointed sexual appendage located on segment 9 of the females’ abdomens.  The ovipositor is usually used to pierce the stems of water plants such as cattails where the female then proceeds to deposit her eggs.  Like we witnessed, however, Lance-tipped Darner Dragonfly females will sometimes choose alternate sites to lay their eggs.  Once spooked by the frog, the dragonfly patrolled the fringe of the pond before whisking away over the nearby shrubbery.

You May Also Enjoy:

Green Darner Dragonfly - closeup on pink flower - Rosetta McClain Gardens - Toronto

Green Darner Dragonflies we sighted at Rosetta McClain Gardens – Toronto

eastern comma butterfly closeup of comma, tommy thompson park, toronto

An Eastern Comma Butterfly at Tommy Thompson Park

monarch butterflies along creek at el rosario biosphere reserve, mexico 9

Among the Winged Magic at El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Reserve in Mexico

Tomato Hornworm Moths at a Moonflower plant at Grand Canyon National Park

Tomato Hornworm Moths we sighted at Grand Canyon National Park

long-eared owl, tommy thompson park, toronto 11

A Long-eared Owl at Tommy Thompson Park

kudu, kruger national park, south africa

Frame To Frame – Bob and Jean