A pocket wilderness in the heart of Houston.

West 11 Street Park



Dragonflies

Dragonflies have been known by colorful names such as "devil's darning needles", "horse stinger", "eye sticker" and "mule killer" but these winged insects are incapable of stinging and are quite harmless.  In fact, these flying insects are helpful to humans by eating mosquitos, gnats, winged ants, winged termites and other insects that are nuisances and sometimes harmful.

Adult dragonflies are voracious predators. They will eat just about anything they can catch on the wing and generally devour their prey in flight.  Larger prey such as damselflies, other dragonflies, and even butterflies are taken to a perch to be eaten.

Dragonflies perch with their wings spread flat and regulate their body temperature by assuming various postures.  Males and females are sometimes distinguished by different colors and patterns. In some species, individuals change colors with age and season.  In general, males are more brightly colored than females.

In North America there are 307 species of dragonflies of which 160 species have been recorded in Texas.  Visit this link for more information on dragonflies in HoustonBelow are some of the dragonflies that can be seen at West 11th Street Park during the year.

Click on the photo for enlarged view of picture.


Eastern Ringtail Eastern Ringtail

2 inches in length.  This clubtail dragonfly can be seen from May thru October.  Habitat is streams and rivers with moderate to strong flows in rocky areas.  Males can often be seen perching on small rocks or on vegetation a foot or two above the ground.  The most widely distributed ringtail species in the area.  Wings will often have a wash of yellow.

Photo by D Reynolds.

Prince Baskettail Prince Baskettail

2.6 inches to 2.9 inches in length.  This cruiser dragonfly can be seen mid-March thru mid-September.  Habitat is slow quiet portions of streams, ponds and lakes.  Its eyes are brown when young and turn brilliant green in older males.  Can be seen patrolling long areas just off the shoreline.  The only baskettail with brown wingtips.

Blue-eyed Darner Blue-eyed Darner

2.5 to 2.9 inches in length.  This darner dragonfly can be seen from mid-June to mid-October.  Habitat is open sunny areas of slow-moving streams, ponds, lakes with vegetation.  The face, eyes and pale spots are all brilliant blue and can be easily seen in flight.

Photo by  D Huntington.

Swamp Darner Swamp Darner

3.2 to 3.7 inches in length.  This darner dragonfly can be seen from June to late July.  Habitat is heavily wooded streams, pools and ponds.  Large dragonfly that has brilliant blue eyes and brown body with narrow green abdominal rings.  The wings are often heavily tinged with amber color.

Photo by T Bently.

Blue Dasher Blue Dasher

1.1 to 1.7 inches in length.  This skimmer dragonfly can be seen year round.  Habitat is mostly quiet bodies of water.  They can often be seen perched with their wings depressed.  The eyes are brilliant blue or green in males and reddish brown in females. They are aggressive predators and can regularly take over 10% of their body weight in prey daily.

Photo by Greg Lasley.

Eastern Amber Wing Eastern Amber Wing

0.8 to 1.0 inches in length.  This skimmer dragonfly can be seen from February thru November.  Habitat is ditches, pools, ponds and other still waters.  One of the smallest dragonflies in Texas. This small dragonfly has an elaborate courtship behavior.  Males come to the water's edge early in the morning to patrol and defend a territory as a potential egg laying site.  This small territory is only accepted by the male if he is not disturbed and there is no competition from other males.

Photo by T Murray.

Eastern Pondhawk Eastern Pondhawk

1.5 to 1.7 inches in length.  This skimmer dragonfly can be seen year round.  Habitat is mostly quiet bodies of water with abundant vegetation.  It has a green face.  Young males and females are bright green and become powder blue in older males.  Males of this species display a unique "leap frogging" behavior when defending territories.

Photo by T Long.

Halloween Pennant Halloween Pennant

1.2 to 1.6 inches in length.  This skimmer dragonfly can be seen May thru October.  Habitat is marshes, ponds and lakes with emergent vegetation.  These striking dragonflies are the most butterfly-like in appearance.  On hot summer days they perch with the abdomen raised in the obelisk position.

Photo by Greg Lasley.

Neon Skimmer Neon Skimmer

2.1 to 2.3 inches in length.  This skimmer dragonfly can be seen mid-May thru October.  Habitat is shaded spring-fed sluggish streams, ponds and small pools near streams.  Males become bright red w/ amber color in the base of the wings.  Its bright red color and erratic movements rarely go unnoticed.  Males may be seen perched on top of tall grasses and weeds, but when females are present, they are generally seen chasing them in attempts to mate.

Photo by Victor Engel.

Red Saddlebags Red Saddlebags

1.6 to 1.9 inches in length.  This skimmer dragonfly can be seen mid-February thru mid-November. Habitat is pools, lakes, permanent and temporary ponds, and slow-moving streams.  They can be seen in large swarms in the fall.  Males patrol large territories, often flying at great heights.  Mating occurs while perched high in bushes and trees.

Photo by Greg Lasley.

Spotted Wing Glider Spotted Wing Glider

1.7 to 2.0 inches in length.  This skimmer dragonfly can be seen year round.  Habitat is mostly open temporary ponds and pools, including brackish waters.  This dragonfly swarms over open area and is abundant in the fall.  They are strong fliers and generally only take a perch to roost at night.

Photo by Greg Lasley.

Thornbush Dasher Thornbush Dasher

1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches in length.  This skimmer dragonfly can be seen almost year round in Houston. Habitat is heavily vegetated ponds and lakes.  This dragonfly is the most widespread tropical dasher in North America.  This species is often found perched on thick vegetation surrounding ponds.

Photo by Greg Lasley.

Twelve Spotted Skimmer Twelve Spotted Skimmer

1.6 to 2 inches in length.  This skimmer dragonfly can be seen mid-March thru mid-November.  Habitat is ponds, lakes, temporary pools, and slow moving streams where there is vegetation and sunshine.   Its name refers to the dark spots on the wings.  They fly almost continuously and are only occasionally seen perched.

Photo by D Odonnell.


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