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For information on Wisconsin's rare vertebrate animals, contact:
Rich Staffen
Conservation Biologist
For information on Wisconsin's rare invertebrates, contact:
Jay Watson
Conservation Biologist

Spatterdock Darner (Rhionaeschna mutata)



Spatterdock Darner (Rhionaeschna mutata), a State Threatened species, has been found in shallow peaty lakes with abundant floating vegetation in the Central Sands region. The flight period extends from early June through late June.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - both state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Spatterdock Darner (Rhionaeschna mutata). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where occurrences of this species meet NHI data standards and is not meant as a comprehensive map of all observations.

Note: Species recently added to the NHI Working List may temporarily have blank occurrence maps.

Documented locations of Rhionaeschna mutata in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.
Summary Information
State StatusTHR
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS1
Global RankG4
Tracked by NHIY

Species guidance

Note: a species guidance document is not available at this time. Information below was compiled from publication PUB-ER-085-99 (now out-of-print).

Identification: Darners are large brightly colored clear winged dragonflies of wetland habitats. The spatterdock darner is mostly deep blue in color including the very large eyes. The shape of the terminal appendages of the adult male are distinctive. This is the only Wisconsin Aeshna that emerges in early June.

Habitat: Adults can be found at breeding sites from early June through early July. The nature of larval habitat makes d-frame net sampling very difficult. Exuviae of recently emerged individuals can be found clinging to emergent vegetation or on the shore of breeding ponds.

State Distribution: Adults are known from only three ponds in Marquette County and breeding is confirmed in only one of those.

Phenology: A. mutata is also distinctive in that it requires fleshy emergent aquatic vegetation in shallow usually fishless lakes. They are usually found in association with spatterdock (Nuphar spp.), hence the common name. Adult females insert eggs into the soft stems of aquatic vegetation below the water line. Larvae are active predators and actively stalk aquatic organisms. They probably have a two–year life cycle. Emergence takes place in early June and adults are present until early July.

Management Guidelines: Very little is known about the factors limiting the distribution of spatterdock darners. Introduction of fish or modification of pond habitats to make ponds more suitable for fish are probably detrimental practices for A. mutata populations.



Spatterdock Darner

Photo by Rich Staffen, WDNR.

Wildlife Action Plan

Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan graphic

Natural community (habitat) associations

The table below lists the natural communities that are associated with Spatterdock Darner. Only natural communities for which Spatterdock Darner is "high" (score=3) or "moderate" (score=2) associated are shown. See the key to association scores for complete definitions. Please see the Wildlife Action Plan to learn how this information was developed.

Ecological landscape associations

The table below lists the ecological landscape association scores for Spatterdock Darner. The scores correspond to the map (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None). For more information, please see the Wildlife Action Plan.

This map shows the probability of Spatterdock Darner occurring in each of Wisconsin's Ecological Landscapes.  Actual scores can be found in the table to the left.

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Landscape-Community combinations of highest ecological priority*

Ecological priorities are the combinations of natural communities and ecological landscapes that provide Wisconsin's best opportunities to conserve important habitats for a given Species of Greatest Conservation Need. The 10 highest scoring combinations are considered ecological priorities and are listed below. More than 10 combinations are listed if multiple combinations tied for 10th place. For more information, please see the Wildlife Action Plan.

* Ecological priority score is a relative measure that is not meant for comparison between species. This score does not consider socio-economical factors that may dictate protection and/or management priorities differently than those determined solely by ecological analysis. Further, a low ecological priority score does not imply that management or preservation should not occur on a site if there are important reasons for doing so locally.

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Issues/threats and conservation actions

Conservation actions respond to issues or threats, which adversely affect species of greatest conservation need (SGCN) or their habitats. Besides actions such as restoring wetlands or planting resilient tree species in northern communities, research, surveys and monitoring are also among conservation actions described in the WWAP because lack of information can threaten our ability to successfully preserve and care for natural resources.

Threats/issues and conservations actions for rare animals

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Last revised: Thursday, October 08, 2020