Dragonflies. Anisoptera. Belonging to the order Odonata (“toothed”).
All dragonflies have two sets of wings, great big eyes (they are visual hunters), and a long skinny body with 10 segments. A big bug with teeth, sort of. Powerful mandibles for sure. A carnivorous big bug with a voracious appetite for mosquitoes that earns its nickname: “Mosquito Hawk.” There are 8 families of dragonfly and at least 124 genera in those families…and still counting. Read lots more about dragonflies here. I’ve not done much oding, so it’s pretty reckless of me to hazard a guess, but I thought at first this might be Didymops Transversa. The wings sure look like a match, with the placement of those dark “reinforced” sections. And the body coloration looks close.
But, I have it on good authority that I’m wrong. Dragonfly Woman, an aquatic entomologist from Arizona, says she doesn’t necessarily know tons about identifying Michigan dragonflies, but she was pretty sure this guy was a member of the Aeshna genus–likely one of the mosaic darners. Wow, and me a sock knitter and all! The good people hanging out at BugGuide agree. A comment from one knowledgeable BugGuide participant says it’s definitely a female Aeshna. I didn’t ask how he knows it’s a girl (probably more girls than guys darn, do you think?) He thinks it might be a Canada Darner, but would want to have a closer look at the pattern on the side of her thorax to know that for sure. Wow. Again.
Shortly before we found this guy, Steve watched a dragonfly that looked like this one hatch out on the lawn from its superugly nymph stage. The nymphs crawl out of the water, crack out of their drab gray-brown carapace and unfold into something like this. This visitor to our deck sat for at least half an hour drying his wings, we assume. Or catching his breath. Or doing the dragonfly equivalent of trying to figure out how all his new “stuff” is supposed to work.
Dragonflies will live for 6-8 weeks Mate, eat and die. This somewhat drab-colored dragonfly is not quite the match for the beauty that hatched out on our lawn a few years ago: 2009 Long Lake Dragonfly. But still a darned cool bug specimen. And so well-mannered as compared to the ants that have decided they own the deck this year.