The Dragonflies and Damselflies of North Carolina
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North Carolina's 189 Odonate species

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Related Species in AESHNIDAE: Number of records for 2024-00-00 = 0
Added in 2024-00-00 from a previous year = 1

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Shadow Darner (Aeshna umbrosa) by John Petranka
Compare with: Black-tipped Darner   Springtime Darner   Green-striped Darner  
Identification Tips: Move the cursor over the image, or tap the image if using a mobile device, to reveal ID Tips.
Note: these identification tips apply specifically to mature males; features may differ in immature males and females.

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Click on county for list of all its records for Shadow Darner
Flight Charts
Distribution Essentially in the mountains and Piedmont, and sparingly in the western third of the Coastal Plain (at least formerly), including the Sandhills region (documented with a 2020 photo).
Abundance Fairly common in the mountains, rare to uncommon over most of the Piedmont, and very rare in the western Coastal Plain. However, abundance is somewhat difficult to assess, as the species often flies in late afternoon and near dusk, in shaded parts of forests. Also, it flies late in the season, when much odonate field work has subsided. Found in most counties within the range in the state. It is certainly not nearly as numerous or conspicuous as most darners of the spring and early summer seasons; however, it is one of the few darners that is more numerous in the mountains than it is downstate.
Flight Because this is a late summer/fall species, the mountain flight occurs somewhat earlier than the flights downstate. In the mountains it occurs mainly from early July to mid-November, peaking in September and October, with a few records even to late November. In the Piedmont the flight is later, mainly from late August to mid-November, and possibly into late November. However, there are records in the mountains and Piedmont as early as mid-June. The few flight dates from the Coastal Plain are from late August to late September, and one in mid-November; oddly, there are no October reports from this province, though it is very rare there.
Habitat The vicinity of ponds, lake shores, marshes, and small streams, generally near wooded areas, but it can occur in open areas. Seldom seen near fields or areas far from water.
Behavior Rather secretive, often staying in shady places. Can fly over small open areas, darting back and forth, but usually only in late afternoon.
Comments Of the "common" dragonflies in the state (collected/reported in over 60% of the counties), this is not a well known species to many observers, as it is rather scarce or hard to find in the Piedmont. Unlike other darners, it seldom flies around open areas, fields, or ponds during the morning or early afternoon hours; it keeps more to shaded areas and later times of the day for flying.
State Rank S4
State Status
Global Rank G5
Federal Status
Other Name
Species account update: LeGrand on 2023-01-09 11:23:30

Photo Gallery for Shadow Darner   32 photos are available.
Only the most recent 30 are shown.
Other NC Galleries:    Jeff Pippen    Will Cook    Ted Wilcox
Photo 1 by: Emma Kaminsky

Comment: Wake, 2022-10-04, Prairie Ridge Ecostation. iNaturalist record #137577017 - Female
Photo 2 by: L. Arent

Comment: Watauga, 2022-09-09, Brookshire Park - Patrolling a small wetland at the north end of the greenway.
Photo 3 by: iNaturalist username golddragon56

Comment: Yancey, 2022-08-15, Green Mountain, Green Acres Ln. - Female
Photo 4 by: B. Bockhahn

Comment: Surry, 2021-11-16, Tumbling Rock Reservoir. Thoracic stripes green, abdominal spots blue, photo from smart phone so poor quality
Photo 5 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Ashe, 2021-08-08, Pond Mountain Game Land
Photo 6 by: Maureen O'Halloran

Comment: Moore; C, 2020-11-14, Perched, on Beautyberry; photo on Facebook Carolina Odonates group
Photo 7 by: Lori Arent

Comment: Wilkes; P, 2020-10-12, on neighbor's back porch in the Maple Springs area
Photo 8 by: P Dixon

Comment: Madison, 2019-09-19, Broadwing Farm - Female
Photo 9 by: John Petranka

Comment: Watauga, 2019-09-17, Clawson-Burnley Park, Boone. At the retention ponds. - Males.
Photo 10 by: B. Bockhahn

Comment: Stokes, 2019-08-20, Hanging Rock State Park, Vade Mecum area
Photo 11 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Watauga, 2019-08-08, Elk Knob State Park (ELKN); small marshy pond
Photo 12 by: John Petranka

Comment: Burke; M, 2017-09-21, In a small partially shaded pond that was lined with American Bur-reed and other emergent vegetation; on private property just south of Jonas Ridge. - Males.
Photo 13 by: Jim Petranka, Becky Elkin, and Bill Booth

Comment: Burke; M, 2017-09-19, In large farm pond at Jonas Ridge. - Heteromorph female.
Photo 14 by: John Petranka, Sally Gewalt

Comment: Watauga, 2016-10-25, Trout Lake, Julian Price Park, Blue Ridge Parkway. Marshy area around stream inlet near dam. 4 males, 1 female including I mating pair. Photos.
Photo 15 by: John Petranka, Sally Gewalt

Comment: Alleghany, 2015-07-14, Stone Mountain State Park (STMO). Seep and boggy area near campground Loop B. - Male. Patrolling and hovering in shaded boggy area. Low light flight photo taken.
Photo 16 by: Jim Petranka and Becky Elkin

Comment: Madison, 2014-10-18, new county record - flying above small woodland pond in partially shaded area
Photo 17 by: Vin Stanton

Comment: Buncombe, 2012-09-20, Beaver Lake, Asheville - Male & Female
Photo 18 by: Vin Stanton

Comment: Buncombe, 2012-09-20, Beaver Lake, Asheville - Male & Female
Photo 19 by: Vin Stanton

Comment: Henderson, 2011-09-12, Fletcher Park - Male
Photo 20 by: Vin Stanton

Comment: Henderson, 2011-09-12, Fletcher Park - Male
Photo 21 by: Vin Stanton

Comment: Henderson, 2011-08-16, Fletcher Park Pond
Photo 22 by: Vin Stanton

Comment: Henderson, 2011-08-16, Fletcher Park Pond
Photo 23 by: Chelsea Rath

Comment: Avery, 2011-07-28, Blue Ridge Parkway
Photo 24 by: Doug Johnston

Comment: Buncombe, 2011-07-23, northern Buncombe County, Leicester patch
Photo 25 by: Doug Johnston

Comment: Buncombe, 2010-09-16, Small pond, Leicester patch, northern Buncombe County - Finally found this dragonfly still enough to photo
Photo 26 by: Jason P. Love

Comment: Macon, 2009-11-28, Found flying along Middle Creek Road near xeric pine-oak community - Netted and photographed
Photo 27 by: Owen McConnell

Comment: Graham, 2007-10-27
Photo 28 by: Ted Wilcox

Comment: Watauga Co., 2007-07-12
Photo 29 by: Jeffrey Pippen - Jeff's website

Comment: Orange, 2006-10-15
Photo 30 by: Roger Rittmaster

Comment: Durham, 2004-11-21, Cornwallis Road, SW of Old Erwin Road, iNat record# 22666785