Let’s talk about a weird dragonfly in Ohio. First officially documented in 1992, we have no earlier records of the Blue Corporal (Ladona deplanata).
Due to its limited range and poor documentation, the Blue Corporal was considered worthy of listing as a species in trouble. Thus, it gained status as State Endangered in Ohio.
And it is not like people weren’t looking for dragonflies in Ohio. In the 1990’s, there was a dedicated attempt to survey the state, which is part of why we know it is here now. They also looked through museum records and publications, but the earliest record was still 1992.
The 1990’s Ohio Odonata Survey ended in the 1990s (surprise) and then effort to look for dragonflies in Ohio waned. Then I got my job as the State Coordinator of the Ohio Dragonfly Survey in the spring of 2017. Now there are lots of amazing volunteers out photographing dragons!
And guess what? Those Blue Corporals? In the last few years, we have had many people documenting them! The numbers are still somewhat low, but last year we found 51 of them!!
What’s more, now that we have enough observations, we can start to understand the regionality of the species. Oddly enough, the Blue Corporal is mostly documented south of Interstate 70.
We also do not see many observations in the eastern most portion of southern Ohio. Perhaps in part because we have very few people surveying there. Tie in the fact that this species flies mainly in April and May, means a very limited window to document.
Should this species still be listed as State Endangered? I’m not sure and that isn’t my call to make at this time. I am happy to see it showing up in many more spots. Hopefully, we will get more people out this year to document them even better!
Do you think you have seen one? Submit it to iNaturalist so we can confirm the record and add it to our database!
The Blue Corporal males have a wide thorax and abdomen that is a light or slate blue. The base of the hindwings is diagnostic, with a splash of black. You might mistake a male Blue Corporal for an Eastern Pondhawk (has a green face and white cerci), Blue Dasher (black tip of the abdomen, generally skinnier), or Slaty Skimmer (darker blue body, generally skinnier, perches off the ground). All of the similar species fly later in the season and are less likely to be found in April/May in Ohio. Females look similar to baskettails with a mostly brown body, but also are generally wider.