Dragonflies abound along the aquatic habitats at Prairie Ridge! The Eastern Pondhawks are colorful, active dragonflies found throughout the grounds.
What is an Eastern Pondhawk? Eastern Pondhawks (Erythemis simplicicollis) are very common dragonflies in North Carolina. Look for them near ponds and slow-moving streams and rivers, but these charismatic insects are often found far from water as well.
Why are males and females different colors? Female pondhawks, as pictured on the left, are bright, vivid green with green faces and black markings along the abdomen. Males, pictured on the right, are the same color when they first emerge as adults, but over time they build up a waxy layer that turns their bodies a dusty blue. Underneath the wax, however, they look just like the females! When the males and females of a species look very different, scientists call them sexually dimorphic. Dimorphic means "two forms," so sexually dimorphic means that males and females are different. Many other dragonflies are sexually dimorphic too!
What do Eastern Pondhawks eat? Pondhawks, like other dragonflies, are predators and hunt for meat. As adults, they mostly eat other insects (mosquitoes, flies, damselflies, etc), though some larger dragonflies are known to eat hummingbirds and other non-insect flying animals. Pondhawks catch their food while flying, using their long legs to grab and hold their food. They'll often land before eating, though they can eat while they fly too!
Find out more about the natural happenings at Prairie Ridge at our What Time is it in Nature Archive.
* Photos by Christine L. Goforth