Sexing odonate exuviae (Anisoptera)

For some (but not all) species of odonate larvae/exuviae, sex is indicated by either a rudimentary ovipositor (female) or vestigial genitalia (male). These sex organs don’t look exactly the same for all species of dragonflies, but their function is identical.

The following photo gallery shows relatively clear examples that illustrate how to sex odonate exuvia in Suborder Anisoptera (Dragonflies).

Female (rudimentary ovipositor)

Family Aeshnidae (Darners)

10 DEC 2018 | Hairy Dragonfly (Brachytron pratense) | exuvia (female)

Family Cordulegastridae (Spiketails)

Family Corduliidae (Emeralds)

(none)

Family Gomphidae (Clubtails)

20 MAR 2018 | Brook Snaketail (Ophiogomphus aspersus) | exuvia (female)

Family Libellulidae (Skimmers)

(none)

Family Macromiidae (Cruisers)

(none)

Family Petaluridae (Petaltails)

Male (vestigial genitalia)

Male odonates have two sets of sex organs: primary genitalia located on abdominal segment nine (S9); and secondary genitalia located on abdominal segments two-to-three (S2-3).

Both sets of vestigial genitalia are clearly visible on the ventral side of some (but not all) specimens, such as the A. umbrosa exuvia shown below.

Family Aeshnidae (Darners)

Family Cordulegastridae (Spiketails)

(none)

Family Corduliidae (Emeralds)

Family Gomphidae (Clubtails)

26 MAR 2018 | Appalachian Snaketail (Ophiogomphus incurvatus) | exuvia (male)

Family Libellulidae (Skimmers)

Family Macromiidae (Cruisers)

Family Petaluridae (Petaltails)

(none)

Related Resources

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

2 Responses to “Sexing odonate exuviae (Anisoptera)”

  1. Michael Boatwright Says:

    Nice work..thanks for sharing this info!

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