Unlike most actively flying darners, this species is known to pluck prey items from herbaceous vegetation (Paulson 2011), a feeding technique termed "gleaning."
This darner is almost always found in low densities at widely scattered locations, which seem to vary from year to year. Its distribution in New York seems to have shrunk considerably, from eight occupied counties historically, to just four during the mid 2000s (White et al 2010), none of which was historically known.
Prior to the New York Dragonfly and Damselfly Survey (White et al., 2010), this species was known from eight counites in central and southeastern parts of the state. During and after the survey it has been found in four different counties, but it was not rediscovered in any of the previously-known places. This suggests that although the species is rather widespread, it is very uncommon and local.
Populations of this more southerly distributed dragonfly apparently fluctuate rather markedly on its northern range boundary in the northeastern US and Canada.
Land use practices which might damage shoreline vegetation and floating and/or emergent vegetation in breeding waters could make the habitat less suitable. Also, run-off from surrounding lands that might lead to lower dissolved oxygen, such as fertilizers, could also reduce favorable conditions.
Lakeshore practices such as natural buffers that promote shoreline integrity of forests and healthy stands of native emergent and floating vegetation should serve to benefit populations of this species.
There is very little known about most aspects of this species' life history and population dynamics. The large distinctive adult dragonfly is rarely encountered, although exuviae can be surprsingly common (Pollard and Berrill 1992), which suggests it could be under-reported.
Thuis is primarily a lentic species in New York where it frequents egdes of medium-sized vegetated lakes and larger ponds, less often along swampy portions of slow flowing rivers. In the southern US where this species is more common, it is associated with lower pH lakes, with abundant emergent and floating vegetation and high concentration of dissolved oxygen and cooler water temperatures (Osborn 2005).
Current records lie in two distinct regions of the state, one inland along the eastern shoreline of Lake Ontario, and the other in the extreme southeast, north of New York City. This is generally not a species of the uplands.
This widespread, but local, darner ranges from Texas and Florida, north to Wisconsin, eastward through Ontario to Maine.
The aspect of this darner is stockier and greener than most other Aeshna. The eyes of the male are bright blue, with a blue-green face above to dull yellow on front. The thorax is brown with jagged green stripes. The thick abdomen has a complex green and brown striped pattern (see Paulson 2011).
Its rather stocky body, with no waist and a projecting frons ("nose") and uniquely shaped blue abdominal markings are characteristic.
Mature adults are the best life stage for the identification of all dragonflies. Larval (exuvial) identification requires the use of detailed taxonomic keys, can be difficult and unreliable, especially in the case of larvae that are not yet mature.
Males fly regular courses 4-6 feet above open water in a fluttering style of flight. They will also cruise over clearings in the forest, but rarely perch (Jones et al., 2008; Paulson 2011).
The larvae are generalist predators, while the adults feed on flying insects, incluidng other dragonflies.
Winged adults have been discovered in New York for only about one month between early-mid June to early-mid July.
The time of year you would expect to find Cyrano Darner reproducing and larvae present and active in New York.
Nasiaeschna pentacantha (Rambur, 1842)
Donnelly, T. W. 1992. The odonata of New York State. Bulletin of American Odonatology. 1(1):1-27.
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2021. New York Natural Heritage Program Databases. Albany, NY.
Osborn, R. 2005. Odonata as indicators of habitat quality at lakes in Louisiana, United States. Odonatologica 34:259-270.
Paulson, D. 2011. Dragonflies and damselflies of the east. Princeton University Press, Princeton,New Jersey, USA.
Pollard, J. B., & Berrill, M. 1992. The distribution of dragonfly nymphs across a pH gradient in south-central Ontario lakes. Canadian Journal of Zoology 70: 878-885.
Soltesz, Ken. 1992. Proposed Heritage ranks for New York State odonata. Unpublished report for New York Natural Heritage Program. 37 pp.
White, Erin L., Jeffrey D. Corser, and Matthew D. Schlesinger. 2010. The New York Dragonfly and Damselfly Survey 2005-2009: distribution and status of the odonates of New York. New York Natural Heritage Program, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Albany, NY.
This guide was authored by: Jeffrey D. Corser
Information for this guide was last updated on: March 30, 2017
Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2021. Online Conservation Guide for Nasiaeschna pentacantha. Available from: https://guides.nynhp.org/cyrano-darner/. Accessed May 7, 2021.