As “spring ephemeral” dragonflies, adult blue corporals (Odonata: Libellulidae: Ladona deplanata) can only be seen from March through May. Aquatic nymphs emerge early in the season, molt into adults, and take to the air. They complete their life cycle by mating, laying eggs, and dying before many other adult insects even get going.
These large skimmers are found across the southeastern United States, usually flying low in woodlands near ponds and streams. Adults females lay their eggs near these bodies of water since their young require aquatic environments to survive.
Both the nymphs and adults are predatory. Nymphs feed on aquatic invertebrates and can even overpower small vertebrates like fish. Adults feed on a variety of flying insects including mosquitoes, midges, and other flies. They capture their prey on the wing, holding and devouring it while flying. Since they eat large numbers of pestiferous insects, they’re considered beneficial to humans.
Blue corporals get their common name from two different features. While females like this individual are colored with a drab black and brown pattern, males are colored bright blue. The “corporal” part of the name comes from the white “shoulder stripes” on the thoraxes of the females and recently-emerged adult males.