The Pine Ridge Association at Henry W. Coe State Park

Bugs and Creepy Crawlies


This page contains pictures and brief data about some of the bugs, insects, and spiders that you might encounter at Henry W. Coe State Park. There are many other 'bugs' that you might find on your journey, but these are some of the more common ones.

Tick, Spiders, Scorpion and Sowbug

Black-legged Tick Banded Garden Spider Yellow Garden Spider
Tarantula Crab Spider Scorpion
Sowbug Large Milkweed Bug

Millipede, Beetles, Grasshopper, Cricket, Katydid, Mantis and Mayfly

Millipede Soldier Beetle Ladybug
Darkling Beetle Grasshopper Jerusalem Cricket
Katydid Praying Mantis Mayfly

Caterpillars, Moths, Flys, Bees and Wasps

Pacific Tent Caterpillar Snowberry Clearwing Moth Bee Fly
Flower Fly Honeybee Cuckoo Wasp
Yellow Jacket Tarantula Hawk Pacific Green Sphinx
White Lined Sphinx

Damselflys and Dragonflys

Northern Bluet Damselfly Blue Dasher Dragonfly Common Whitetail Dragonfly
Flame Skimmer Dragonfly Western Pondhawk Dragonfly Widow Skimmer Dragonfly

Banded Garden Spider (Argiope trifasciata)


Banded Garden Spiders are orb weavers that are common throughout the United States. Females grow to about 1 inch in body length. They are found in open fields, prairies, and arid habitats with tall grass. Adults are seen late summer through early fall. The top of the abdomen is variable from silver to white with transverse bands of black, brown, and/or yellow. Trident mark frequently evident as well, the "tines" pointing to the hind end of the abdomen; underside of abdomen mottled black or brown with two parallel, vertical yellow stripes; carapace silver; legs strongly banded with black and yellow. They eat insects that jump or fly and are intercepted by the web. It is very unlikely to bite unless severely provoked, and in that case the bite would be probably no worse than a bee sting.

Photo Credit - RD cc_by_nc_nd

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Bee Fly (Bombylius major)


Bearing an extremely strong resemblance to bees their body is stout and furry, with the top of the thorax being black and shiny and the pile either brown, yellow, or white. They have long spindly legs as well as a long rigid proboscis found in the front of the head. Their boldly patterned wings have a distinct dividing border through the horizontal middle between the dark and clear portions. Adults hover at flowers where they feed on nectar and wait for solitary bees. The fly follows the bee to its nest and lays her eggs there. The fly larvae eat the bee larvae.

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Pacific Black-legged Tick (Ixodes pacificus)


The most important arthropod vector of diseases, including Lyme Disease, surpassing the mosquito. These ticks wait patiently on a blade of grass with front legs reaching out, ready to grasp a suitable host if it walks by. Adults and nymphs have black legs, head, and thoracic plate. The female abdomen is dark reddish and the male abdomen is blackish. They are found in the western United States and British Columbia. Adults are found in forests, north coastal scrub, high brush, and open grasslands while nymphs are commonly found on moss-covered tree trunks. Adults feed on the blood of large mammals such as deer, dogs, coyotes, horses, and humans.

Photo Credit - CDC/ Dr. Amanda Loftis, Dr. William Nicholson, Dr. Will Reeves, Dr. Chris Paddock, James Gathany pd_cslash_small

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Yellow Garden Spider (Argiope aurantia)


The web of the yellow garden spider is distinctive: a circular shape up to 2 feet in diameter, with a dense zigzag of silk, known as a stabilimentum, in the center. They are found in most of the lower 48 states and southern Canada. Females grow to 1 inch in body length. Adults are seen late summer through early fall. They are commonly found in gardens and open fields. In both sexes, the shiny, egg-shaped abdomen has striking yellow or orange markings on a black background. The forward part of the body, the cephalothorax, is covered with short, silvery hairs. Legs are mostly black, with red or yellow portions near the body. Despite bright colors, this spider is not a danger to humans. It is very unlikely to bite unless severely provoked, and in that case the bite would be probably no worse than a bee sting.

Photo Credit - Sue Dekalb © All Rights Reserved

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Blue Dasher Dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis)


Blue Dasher females and immature males are greenish on the face and thorax (between the head and the abdomen), with a brownish black abdomen marked along the top with two parallel lines of pale yellow to yellowish green dashes. Mature males are greenish on the face and thorax but the abdomen is pruinose (dusty or frosty) blue. The wings are mostly clear but may be clouded with brownish yellow at the bases, especially on the hind wings. Females are recognized by the narrow yellow parallel stripes on the abdomen. This dragonfly is small to medium in size, with a length of 1 3/8 to 1 13/16 inches. The Blue Dasher frequents ponds, lakes, marshes, and bogs and can be found almost anywhere there is still water. The adult Blue Dasher will eat almost any soft-bodied flying insect including mosquitoes, flies, butterflies, moths, mayflies, and flying ants or termites.

Photo Credit - Sue Dekalb © All Rights Reserved

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Crab Spider (Misumena sp.)


Crab spiders lurk in flowers ambushing unlucky insects. They are often camouflaged the same color as the flower and unsuspecting flies and bees will sometimes walk right over the spider. These spiders change color by secreting a liquid yellow pigment into the outer cell layer of the body. On a white base, this pigment is transported into lower layers, so that inner glands, filled with white guanine, become visible. The color change from white to yellow takes between 10 and 25 days, the reverse about six days.

Photo Credit - David Evans cc_by

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Cuckoo Wasp (Order Hymenoptera)


Although small (¼ to ½ inch), Cuckoo Wasps are among there most striking of insects with their bright blue or green metallic colors. There are many pits in the body surface. The abdomen is concave beneath, allowing them to curl up into a ball when disturbed. The name "cuckoo wasp" refers to the fact that these wasps lay eggs in the nests of unsuspecting hosts.

Photo Credit - James Niland cc_by

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Northern Bluet Damselfly (Enallagma annexum)


This damselfly is common throughout California and lives in cool, still or slow, water. It is a small damselfly with a length of 1 to 1.5 inches. The male is predominately blue on the sides of its thorax, and the upper side of its abdomen. Its lower abdominal appendages are longer than its upper appendages. The female's body is greenish-yellow to brown in color. The upper side of its abdomen is mostly black

Photo Credit - Rachid H cc_by-nc

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Darkling Beetle (Family Tenebrionidae)


A number of insects, including the one inch Darkling Beetle, have earned the name "stinkbug" by exuding foul-smelling secretions when disturbed. There are also "stinkless" Darklings, an example of protective mimicry. The beetles and larvae eat decaying leaves, sticks, grasses and occasionally new plant growth. As general decomposers, they also eat dead insects, feces and stored grains. Darkling beetles follow a life history known as complete metamorphosis. Like butterflies and moths, they go through four distinct stages during their life cycle (eggs, larvae, pupa, adult). Darkling Beetles are common in many habitats, but are especially adapted to arid regions.

Photo Credit - Mark Denovich cc_by_nc_sa

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Flame Skimmer Dragonfly (Libellula saturata)


Male Flame Skimmers are known for their entirely red or dark orange body, this includes eyes, legs, and even wing veins. Females are usually a medium or darker brown with some thin, yellow markings. This particular type of skimmer varies in size but generally measures somewhere between two and three inches long. These naiads are known for being rather large and chubby-looking due to their rounded abdomen. They are covered with hair but, unlike most young dragonflies, they lack hooks or spines. Due to their choice habitat of warm ponds, streams, or hot springs, flame skimmers are found mainly in the southwestern part of the United States.

Photo Credit - Sue Dekalb © All Rights Reserved

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Honeybee (Apis mellifera)


The European honeybee is so well naturalized that many people have no idea it is not native to North America. They prefer habitats that have an abundant supply of suitable flowering plants, such as meadows, open wooded areas, and gardens. They can survive in grasslands, deserts, and wetlands if there is sufficient water, food, and shelter. They need cavities (e.g. in hollow trees) to nest in. Generally, they are red/brown with black bands and orange yellow rings on the abdomen. They have hair on the thorax and less hair on the abdomen. They also have a pollen basket on their hind legs. Honeybee legs are mostly dark brown/black. Though honeybees are not an effective pollinator for some native plants and crops, they are the most important insect pollinator.

Photo Credit - Esteban Armijo cc_by

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Jerusalem Cricket (Stenopelmatus fuscus)


It is among our biggest (up to 2 inches) and most fearsome-looking insects, yet they are not poisonous or dangerous. These nocturnal insects use their strong mandibles to feed primarily on dead organic matter but can also eat other insects. Their highly adapted feet are used for burrowing beneath moist soil to feed on decaying root plants and tubers. They have a large head and large antennae but no wings. They can often be found under rocks and logs. They are also known as potato bugs.

Photo Credit - Randomtruth cc_by_nc_sa

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Ladybug (Hippodamia convergens)


Ladybugs are found in fields, forests, gardens or anywhere there is ample vegetation that is infested with other insects included in the beetle's diet. They can be found in abundance in gardens, and farms where aphids and other pests are plentiful. Some ladybugs have been transplanted to areas where there has been a large problem with pest control. Both the adults and larvae feed on aphids, other insects, and insect eggs. They are sometimes found in enormous numbers along creekbeds and sheltered places in mountains. They have a prominent black and white pattern behind the head, and black spots on red forewings. They may have a full complement of 13 spots or only a few. The white lines that converge behind the head are common to all individuals.

Photo Credit - Michael Schmidt cc_by_nc_sa

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Millipede (Tylobolus sp.)


Most millipedes eat decaying leaves and other dead plant matter, moisturising the food with secretions and then scraping it in with their jaws. They are generally black or brown in color, although there are a few brightly colored species. The millipede found in our park can grow to over 3 inches in length. They are completely harmless and are often encountered during the rainy season. It defends itself with a malodorous, irritating secretion when disturbed. The millipede's most obvious feature is its large number of legs. Having very many short legs makes millipedes rather slow, but they are powerful burrowers. With their legs and body length moving in a wavelike pattern, they easily force their way underground head first.

Photo Credit - Image Source: KQED QUEST - Some rights reserved. cc_by-nc

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Pacific Tent Caterpillar (Malacosoma constrictum)


The Pacific Tent Caterpillars are colorful, longitudinally striped, and densely hairy. They are blue and black with dense white pairs projecting laterally. This species is common on many broadleaf trees, in particular white oak, during May and June. The caterpillars build communal webs (or "tents") in trees for protection from predators, leaving these webs to feed on foliage of the host tree. Some springs these caterpillars defoliate oak trees severely, but the trees recover by May. They have evolved together, and natural balances limit defoliation to one or two years.

Photo Credit - Donald Owen cc_by-nc

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Praying Mantis (Order Mantidae)


The praying mantis is named for its prominent front legs, which are bent and held together at an angle that suggests the position of prayer. The larger group of these insects is more properly called the praying mantids. Mantis refers to the genus mantis, to which only some praying mantids belong. Praying mantids are highly predacious and feed on a variety of insects, including moths, crickets, grasshoppers and flies. They lie in wait with the front legs in an upraised position. They intently watch and stalk their prey. They will eat each other.

Photo Credit - Paul Liebenberg © All Rights Reserved

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Forest Scorpion (Uroctonus mordax)


Most scorpions prefer warm, dry climates common to Arizona, California and New Mexico. Scorpions are eight-legged venomous invertebrates belonging to the class Arachnida, and the order Scorpiones. They are related to spiders, mites, ticks, and harvestmen, as well as other members of the Arachnida class. The Forest Scorpion is about 1.5 inches long, websites describe it as a medium-size, communal, rather shy and slow-to-act scorpion, preferring to play dead or hide rather than sting, though it'll readily sting prey too big to subdue simply by biting. The species is distributed in moist, heavily forested areas west of the Cascade Mountains from northern California into Washington state.

Photo Credit - Paul Liebenberg © All Rights Reserved

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Snowberry Clearwing Moth (Hemaris diffinis)


The moth is about 1 ¼ to 2 inches long. The moth's abdomen has yellow and black segments much like those of the bumblebee. Most fresh specimens also have some blue "fur" tufts highlighting the first black band on the abdomen. The thorax is golden-brown to dark greenish-brown. The wings are basically clear, with dark brown to brownish-orange veins, bases and edges. It flies during the daylight much like the other hummingbird moths, but it may also continue flight into the evening, particularly if it has found a good source of nectar. The larvae feed on plants including honeysuckle, viburnum, hawthorn, snowberry, cherry, and plum.

Photo Credit - Lisa Brown cc_by-nc

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Mayfly (Order Ephereroptera)


Adult mayflies are very short lived, surviving only one or two nights. During that time the adults mate in swarms in the air. Eggs are deposited while flying low over the water, or by dipping the abdomen on the water surface or some even submerge themselves and lay eggs underwater. Adult females lay eggs into water and often die on the water surface. Mayfly nymphs, the most abundant aquatic insect, make up an essential link in the aquatic food chain. They feed by scavenging small pieces of organic matter such as plant material or algae and debris that accumulate on rocks or other substrates in streams.

Photo Credit - iNaturalist Copyright © 2010 iNaturalist

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Sowbug (Order Isopoda)


Sowbugs are really crustaceans instead of insects, which makes them related to lobsters and crabs. Nicknamed pillbugs, roly-polies, and dozens of other things, they are harmless scavengers, though sometimes pests of seedlings. They are characterised by their ability to roll into a ball when disturbed. They typically feed on moss, algae, bark and other decaying organic matter. They are usually found in moist areas such as decomposing leaf matter and soil.

Photo Credit - Mick E. Talbot cc_by

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Large Milkweed Bug (Order Hemiptera)


The Large Milkweed Bug is distributed throughout North America. It ranges from Central America through Mexico and the Caribbean to southern areas in Canada. Costa Rica represents this insects southern limit. It inhabits disturbed areas, roadsides and open pastures. Adults can range from 10–18 mm in length and have a red/orange and black X-shaped pattern on their wings underneath the triangle. This feature makes the bug easily seen, acting as a warning to predators of distastefulness. The ventral side of the fourth abdominal segment bears a black band in the male and two black spots in the female. Juveniles are born mostly red with black antennae and a few black spots, throughout growth the black spots are developed as well as wing pads. Eggs of this insect are bright orange and easily detectable.

Photo Credit - Heather Ambler © All Rights Reserved

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Tarantula Hawk (Pepsis spp.)


The Tarantula Hawk has a metallic blue-black body with wings that are red/orange or black in color. Body lengths measures up to two inches and the wasps are rather robust, which provides good protection during encounters with tarantulas. Their long legs have hooked claws for grappling with their victims. Females have curled antennae and males have straight ones. The Tarantula Hawk has bright coloring which warns potential predators that this is a meal that might be more painful that it is worth. The Pepsis wasp will approach a tarantula and cause the spider to rear its legs, thus exposing its abdomen. The wasp will sting the spider to paralyze it. The wasp will lay an egg on the paralyzed spider and drag it to a hole, bury it, and cover up the hole. When the wasp egg hatches, the larvae eats the flesh of the living tarantula for about 35 days, then spins a cocoon and pupates over the winter. If the wasp egg fails to hatch, the spider can recover.

Photo Credit - Sue Dekalb © All Rights Reserved

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Pacific Green Sphinx (Proserpinus lucidus)


The Pacific Green Sphinx has a short and stout body. Forewing upperside is green to olive green with pink and brown markings. Hindwing upperside is pale rose pink with a darker submarginal band. The wing span is 1 7/8 - 2 3/8 inches. The caterpillars feed on evening primrose and clarkias. Adults feed on flower nectar. They can be found in oak woodlands, and grasslands.

Photo Credit - Rob Irwin cc_by_nc_nd

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White Lined Sphinx (Hyles lineata)


The White Lined Sphinx is also know as the hummingbird moth because of the similarity in appearance and flight characteristics. The forewing is dark brown with a tan stripe which extends from the base to the apex. There are also white lines that cover the veins. The black hind wing has a broad pink median band. It has a wingspan of 2 to 3 inches. The white-lined sphinx may be encountered from March to October. This moth's rapid wing movement resembles a hummingbird in flight when it hovers over flowers while it feeds. They may also be seen darting in a back-and-forth pattern over nectar sources, or larval food sources. Adult food consists of nectar from a variety of flowers including columbines, larkspurs, honeysuckle, clovers, and thistles..

Photo Credit - Clay Nichols cc_by_nc_nd

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California Ebony Tarantula (Aphonopelma eutylenum)


Tarantulas are tan to reddish brown to black in color with a hairy body and legs. Body size is up to three inches long and two to three inches tall with a leg span of three to five inches. Male tarantulas are longer and slimmer than females and have much smaller abdomens than females. The exoskeleton (outer shell) includes a fused head and thorax connected at a narrow waist to an oval-shaped abdomen. They have eight marginally functional eyes in two groups on their forehead. Their mouth and two backward-pointing fangs are below the eyes. They also have two pedipalps (leg-like appendages) for food handling near their mouth. All of California's native tarantulas are in the genus Aphonopelma. They are invertebrates, a general term for all multiple - celled animals that lack an internal skeleton. Tarantulas mainly eat insects and other arthropods, and they can fast for up to a month.

Photo Credit - Sue Dekalb © All Rights Reserved

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Yellow Jacket (Vespula pensylvanica)

yellowjacket_smallYellow Jackets are considered quite beneficial to agriculture since they feed abundantly on harmful flies and caterpillars, but they become a nuisance when they scavenge for food at picnics or other outdoor venues where food or sugary beverages are served. They are important scavengers of dead animals, and fierce predators of other insects. They feed these insects and scavenged meats to their larvae. Adults eat nectar. Yellow Jackets are social wasps living in colonies containing workers, queens and males.

Photo Credit - Sean McCann cc_by_nc_sa

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Flower Fly (Allograpta obliqua)


These flies, that resemble bees or wasps, are expert fliers and can hover or fly backward, an ability possessed by few insects other than syrphid flies. Adults often visit flowers for nectar or may be seen around aphid colonies where they feed on honeydew secreted by the aphids and lay their eggs in the colony. The adults are considered to be important agents in the cross pollination of some plants. The larvae are important predators, feeding primarily on aphids that attack plants. It has transverse yellow bands on the abdomen, and two oblique yellow marks near the tip.

Photo Credit - Bob Barber cc_by_nc_nd

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Devastator Grasshopper (Melanoplus devastator)


The devastating grasshopper is a major pest in California destroying rangeland forage, orchards, grains, vegetable crops, and gardens. Populations, ever present on rangeland in the coastal and Sierra Nevada foothills of California, fluctuate annually in size. Significant damage to rangeland occurs when densities rise to outbreak levels. Adults make clicking noises in flight and expose brightly-colored body parts to attract mates. Hungry locusts will feed on all kinds of plants.

Photo Credit - Eugene Zelenko cc_by_sa

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Katydid (Microcentrum californicum)

katydid_smallThese grasshopper relatives live in trees and shrubs and are distinguished by their bright green color. Adults have wings and 'sing' in the trees. The wingless nymphs, especially in the younger stages, are multi-colored. The diet of the Katydid includes leaves, flowers, bark, and seeds. Many katydids have wings resembling leaves, making them difficult for predators to detect among foliage.

Photo Credit - Alana Post cc_by_nc_sa

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Soldier Beetle (Family Cantharidae)

soldierbeetle_smallThese mid-sized beetles (about ¾ inches long) are extremely common in the spring and early summer in our area. Adult beetles are soft and somewhat flattened, with parallel sides, long legs and long, usually threadlike antennae. The common name of the group, soldier beetle, has arisen as a result of most members of the family being red and black in color. Adults can be found mostly on vegetation, often on flowers and the larvae can be found in leaf litter, loose soil, rotten wood, etc. Adults eat nectar, pollen, aphids and other insects and the larvae are fluid-feeding predators, feeding on insect eggs and larvae.

Photo Credit - iNaturalist Copyright © 2008 iNaturalist

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Common Whitetail Dragonfly (Plathemis lydia)

commonwhitetail_smallThis is a medium-sized dragonfly with a length of 1.7 to 1.9 inches. The abdomen appears broad. Mature males have partially clear wings, with the central third portion of each wing marked with a large dark patch and a small dark spot at each wing base. The top and sides of the abdomen are pruinose (dusty or frosty) white, with the white extending onto each hind wing along the bottom edge of the dark spot. The thorax (between the head and abdomen) may have several lines or spots of yellow. In females and immature males, each wing has a small dark patch at the base, at the center, and at each tip (the patch at the tip may be more yellowish). The thorax and abdomen are brown marked with yellow. They are found in ponds, lakes, marshes, streams; adults may also be found some distance from water. The adults will eat almost any soft-bodied flying insect including mosquitoes, flies, butterflies, moths, mayflies, and flying ants or termites. It is also known as the Long-tailed Skimmer.

Photo Credit - Sue Dekalb © All Rights Reserved

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Widow Skimmer Dragonfly (Libellula luctuosa)


The mature male Widow Skimmers have a band of white in the middle of each of the four wings, and a larger band of brown in close to the body. The brown abdomen becomes increasingly whitish or steely blue as the dragonfly gets older. The eyes are dark brown to black. Immature males and females have the prominent brown banding on the wings, but lack the white. Females have brown wing tips. Their abdomens are brown with a yellow stripe running down each side. (Others describe the abdomen as yellow with brown stripes on the tops and on each side). The face and mouthparts of the Widow Skimmer are mostly black with some lighter brown areas and the legs are black. This dragonfly is small to medium in size, with a length of 1 ½ to 2 inches. They are very common at ponds and lakes and are also found at some slow-moving streams.

Photo Credit - Sue Dekalb © All Rights Reserved

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Western Pondhawk Dragonfly (Erythemis collocata)

westernpondhawk_smallWestern Pondhawk females and immature males are a uniform bright green from the face to the tip of the abdomen, while mature males are covered with a powdery slate blue (a condition called pruinose). The sides of the thorax may have several small patches of hazy green. Immature males start out like females. The males take a few weeks to change color; first the abdomen becomes blue, then the front of the thorax, and lastly, the sides of the thorax. Male Western Pondhawks have dark blue eyes. This is a medium-sized dragonfly with a length of 1.5 to 1.7 inches. It can be found near warm, marshy lakes and ponds. The adult dragonfly will eat almost any soft-bodied flying insect including mosquitoes, flies, butterflies, moths, mayflies, and flying ants or termites. This species has large, powerful mandibles for its size, and often eats comparatively large insects, such as butterflies and other dragonflies.

Photo Credit - Sue Dekalb © All Rights Reserved

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