Insect Profiles the Tasmanian Darner Austroaeschna Tasmanica

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The Tasmanian darner is a member of the dragonfly family. It lives in Tasmanian, Australia. It gets its name from the appearance of the female's abdomen. It looks like a sewing needle. Hawkers is another name for Tasmanian darners. Females are striped brown, white and grey. Males are a blue black in color. As with most things Tasmanian, these are the largest, of the dragonflies. It has double wings like all dragonflies and six legs. These have about a 22 mm wingspan. The Lesser Tasmanian Darner is similar in appearance. It differs in size and markings on its hind quarters. Darners have about a two-year cycle in Australia.

Dragonflies have compound eyes that give them a wide view and help them to see fast movements. They live near streams, in waterfall spray-zones and swamps. Some dragonflies in Australia live in leaf litter. They are predators that kill and eat bugs like ants, wasps, bees, mosquitoes and flies. Darners seem to prefer the central portions of Australia to the far east or west.

Summer and autumn are the best seasons to see dragonflies, but in Australia, they fly year-round. They fly during the hottest part of sunny days. Sunny breaks after light rain draw them out and are a promising time to view them. Eggs need a warm water temperature to hatch. Cold temperature may mean death to the eggs or larvae, in this case, nymphs. Darners live for over a year. Most of that life takes place in water.  They eat small invertebrates while in the water. They can molt up to fifteen times.

The lifecycle of the dragonfly is similar to most insects: egg, larva, adult. The female dragonfly lays her eggs under the water in streams or swamps. The eggs hatch and live under the water for several weeks to several years. In the final molt, the dragonfly surfaces, and the skin splits so the dragonfly can emerge crawling out of the water.

Darners reproduce often with any female that flies near its stream. They do the act while flying. Females will perch on branches about the stream and the male rides on her back. Females may lay several hundred eggs.

Darners are extremely vulnerable to water pollution and stagnant ponds. A healthy ecosystem will keep these dragonflies around a long time.

Insects worldwide have a constantly fluctuating population. Temperature, pollution, habitat destruction all contribute to how fast the species recovers. Darners are no exception.

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