DRAGONHUNTER

The first time I saw a Dragonhunter, the word that kept flashing through my brain was "magnificent."  This is one of our largest dragonflies. (Swamp Darners are slightly larger in wingspan and length, but Dragonhunters look much bulkier.) The individual at left is a male. He was swinging to and fro on a grass stem beside the river at Germantown MetroPark. 

This is a female Dragonhunter. They have more yellow along the side of the abdomen than males. 

Don't let that grin fool you; this female Dragonhunter is a ferocious predator. While I was photographing her, she flew off her branch, buzzed in my face, and then calmly resumed her perch. I've never had a dragonfly act that aggressively toward me before. I assume she was reminding me that I was in her territory, and I had better not forget who was boss! 

Dragonhunters are apex predators of the insect world; they feed on other dragonflies, large butterflies, and pretty much anything else they can catch. They have the lazy assurance of any apex predator that knows it is king of the hill and has nothing to fear.  

Dragonhunters fly primarily in June and July. I have seen several individuals at Germantown MetroPark, Twin Creek MetroPark, Spring Lakes Park in Bellbrook, and the Caesar Creek dam. Their long legs and gangly bodies make them look somewhat awkward when attempting to settle on a perch.