Saturday, August 17, 2013

Dragonhunter

Erika and I almost ran over this awesome Dragonhunter as we biked the Heartland Trail north of Walker, Minnesota, on 11 August 2013. The dragonfly perched at the apex of a large bridge that spans the outlet between Leech Lake’s Kabekona and Walker bays. Dragonhunters are found across much of the eastern United States and southern Canada. Minnesota lies along the western edge of their range.

Dragonhunters are huge by modern standards, being over three inches long (Paulson calls them monsters).  Different from other clubrtails, scientists classify them into their own genus, Hagenis. They are fierce predators, immune to the toxins of Monarch butterflies upon which they often feast (Mead). They attack other butterflies and even other Dragonhunters. They often attack from above, sometimes knocking their prey into the water (Meade).

Dragonhunters spend much of their time flying over water. Perhaps the bridge we were crossing attracted this female as she flew over the lake outlet. This behavior is unusual for female clubtails. Perhaps female Dragonhunters, unlike other clubtails, do not fear being harassed by males. Females usually tap the water surface with their abdomens when they are egg laying. They are also known to drop eggs into the water from the air (Paulson).

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