New York Natural Heritage Program
Comet Darner
Anax longipes Hagen, 1861

Identifying Characteristics [-]
This is a large (3") powerful, fast-flying dragonfly. The males have a bright green unmarked thorax, a bright red abdomen and dark greenish eyes. The female thorax is entirely green, with a dull rusty abdomen and pale dorsolateral markings.

Characters Most Useful for Identification [-]
The bright red abdomen of the male is diagnostic. The legs of both sexes are also reddish.

Best Life Stage for Proper Identification [-]
Adult male

Behavior [-]
These large, fleet dragonflies are usually observed flying rapidly over open water up to eight feet high, where they are very difficult to catch with an insect net especially because they seldom alight. They can often be observed at waterbodies far from breeding sites. Females oviposit in the stems of water lilies or other emergent vegetation (Carpenter 1991). Activity seems to be more prevalent during early morning and late afternoon hours (Gregoire and Gregoire 2006).

Diet [-]
Adults are aerial generalist insect predators and are the dominant dragonfly where they occur (Carpenter 1991); larvae are also highly predatory and can even take small vertebrates such a minnows and amphibian tadpoles.
Comet Darner Images
click to enlarge
The Best Time to See
This species has an extended flight season in New York from early June to mid September, with the majority of site records coming during July (White et al. 2010). A well-studied pond in central New York had emergence dates of June 16 to August 26, with a peak in late June (Gregoire and Gregoire 2007).
Reproducing Larvae present and active
The time of year you would expect to find Comet Darner reproducing (blue shading) and larvae present and active (orange shading) in New York.
Similar Species
  • Common Green Darner (Anax junius)
    Common Greens are slightly smaller and lack the bright red abdomen of the Comet. Also note the lack of a bullseye on the head of the Comet Darner that is present of the Common Green Darner. Female Comets look very similar to Common Greens, but have deep blue eyes.