Ashley True-Richardson took these photos outside the Mulligan Room in Bear Valley Springs of a female Common Green Darner dragonfly (Anax junius).
This is the most common and widespread dragonfly found in the U.S., and the largest dragonfly typically found in the Tehachapi Mountains. Males look similar, except they typically have blue on their thorax (middle section) rather than green.
Green Darners are active throughout the day as they hawk for insects, which they typically catch on the wing. Males will also patrol a territory in search of visiting females, and they will defend it against other male Green Darners, actually ramming into perceived intruders.
Dragonflies are among the oldest type of creature still on Earth today, with early dragonfly ancestors found in fossils that date to 325 million years ago. Some had wingspans as wide as 30 inches, back during a period known as the "Great Oxygenation Event," when there was such a high percentage of oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere that even creatures with primitive respiratory systems, like dragonflies and millipedes, were able to grow very large.
Adult dragonflies can be found many miles from a water source, but they do need water to reproduce — the larval stage occurs in water. Backyard ponds can attract dragonflies, but they often aren't helpful for reproduction because most people stock their ponds with fish, and fish will eat the larval dragonflies.
Dragonflies don't sting at all and their bite is inconsequential. They are very helpful in controlling insect populations. The Nuwä (Kawaiisu or Paiute) word for dragonfly is kazabinozi, pronounced kah-zah-bi-NO-zee.
NATURAL SIGHTINGS is a regular feature of the Tehachapi News edited by Jon Hammond which showcases photos of the natural beauty that enhances the quality of life in Tehachapi. If you have a good quality image of plants, animals, insects, trees, birds, weather phenomena, etc., taken in the Tehachapi area, you may submit it to the Tehachapi News for possible publication. Submissions can be dropped by the News office in the form of a print or CD, or sent by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.