Washington State Insect

Green Darner Dragonfly

Washington State Insect - Green Darner Dragonfly

(Anax junius Drury)

Adopted in 1997.

In 1997, the common green darner dragonfly, (Anax junius Drury,) became Washington's official Insect after a group of students at Crestwood Elementary School in Kent brought the idea of a Insect to the Washington State Legislature. About 25,000 students from over 100 school districts statewide participated in the selection of the common green darner dragonfly.

Washington State Insect: Green Darner Dragonfly

Washington State Insect - Green Darner Dragonfly

The Green darner dragonfly (also known as the "Mosquito Hawk" because of its dietary habit of feeding on gnats, midges and mosquitos) is a large, strong-flying dragonfly. It has a long blue swollen abdomen, a green thorax, a yellowish-green face and wings with yellow tinges on the upper edge.

This dragonfly is easily recognized by its bright green head and thorax, and a target shaped (or open-eye-shaped) spot on the dorsal side of its head. One gets the impression that it is an open eye staring right up at them. The appearance of this spot will confirm your identification.

It has a 4- to 6-inch wingspan and can fly 25 to 35 mph. There are over 400 different species of dragonflies. Dragonflies existed prior to the dinosaur age and had up to a 3-foot wing span. "Darner" is one family of dragonflies and the common green (Anax junius) was first sighted and recorded by a man named Drury in 1773.

If the swarm is flying in every direction, they are feeding; if they are flying in a steady constant direction, they are migrating. It is not known where the migration ends.

All dragonflies are predators, thus beneficial to man. While they mostly feed on flying insects, there has been at least one report of of a green darner catching and eating a small hummingbird.

Characteristics of the Washington Green Darner Dragonfly



  • Male: 69-78mm; hindwing, 45-50mm.
  • Female: 68-84mm; hindwing, 45-52mm.

Colors: Washington State Insect - Green Darner Dragonfly

  • Male: head yellow-green; frons with a dark dorsal spot surrounded by blue; eyes blue; prothorax dark grey-brown; pterothorax light green with pale brown suture lines; legs reddish-brown; abdomen dark brown dorsally, light green ventrally; segment 2 has a brown anterodorsal spot; segments 3-10 with irregular blue lateral stripes.
  • Female: homeochromatic form as in male; heterochromatic form with abdomen uniformly light reddish-brown, segments 1 and 2 greenish-yellow.

Flight Period:

Anax junius has an unusual life history. Mature adults arrive in the spring and early summer from the United States and the females begin to oviposit immediately. These adults usually disappear by the end of July. By August a new emergence of adults begins. Larval development takes about one year and these


Permanent and temporary ponds, lakes, bays and slow-flowing streams with emergent vegetation


Alaska east to Nova Scotia and south to Panama; also the West Indies, Hawaii, and Tahiti. In Asia south from Kamchatka to Japan and China. In British Columbia, Anax junius is found mainly on southern Vancouver Island, in the Fraser Valley and the Okanagan Shuswap region. Northern records also indicate Canim Lake and Summit Lake, near Prince George

Washington Law

The law designating the common green darner dragonfly as the official Washington state insect is found in the Revised Code of Washington, Title 1, Chapter 1.20, Section 1.20.047.

RCW 1.20.047
The common green darner dragonfly, Anax junius drury, is hereby designated as the official insect of the state of Washington.

[1997 c 6 § 2.]


Finding - 1997 c 6: "The legislature finds that the common green darner dragonfly, Anax junius drury, can be found throughout Washington and is easily recognizable by its bright green head and thorax. The legislature further recognizes that the common green darner dragonfly, also known as the "mosquito hawk," is a beneficial contributor to our ecosystem." [1997 c 6 § 1.]

Taxonomic Hierarchy: Green Darner Dragonfly

Kingdom: Animalia (Animals)
Phylum: Arthropoda (Arthropods)
    Subphylum: Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class: Insecta (Insects)
Order: Odonata (Dragonflies and Damselflies)
    Suborder: Anisoptera (Dragonflies)
Family: Aeshnidae (Darners)
Genus: Anax
Species: junius (Drury) (Common Green Darner)

State Insects,
Butterflies, and Bugs
State Insects,
State insects are selected by 45 states of the 50 United States. Some states have more than one designated insect, or have multiple categories (e.g., state insect and state butterfly, etc.).