Posts Tagged ‘Epitheca costalis’

Baskettail dragonflies

May 10, 2019

Several species of baskettail dragonflies (Epitheca sp.) are among the first odonates to emerge in spring.

22 APR 2019 | PRR | baskettail dragonfly (Epitheca sp.)

Two baskettail dragonflies, possibly either Common Baskettail (E. cynosura) or Slender Baskettail (E. costalis), were spotted at the North Tract of Patuxent Research Refuge, Anne Arundel County, Maryland USA.

Look closely at the full-size version of the following photo. Notice the leading edge of the left fore-wing is slightly malformed.

22 APR 2019 | PRR | baskettail dragonfly (Epitheca sp.)

[Baskettails] have proven to be very difficult to identify, particularly from photographs. Most species are quite variable and there is evidence that they may hybridize and or integrade, making identifications even tougher. Source Credit: Identification of Male Epitheca (Tetragoneuria) in Texas, by John C. Abbott.

I’m unable to identify these dragonflies to the species level. In fact, I’m not sure they’re the same species! I defer to odonate hunters with more expertise than me for help with identification of both species and gender.

Post Addendum

According to Michael Boatwright, founder and administrator of the Virginia Odonata Facebook group, both individuals are male Common Baskettail. Male Common- and Slender Baskettail have curved cerci; females of both species have straight cerci. That’s good baskettail knowledge, Mike Boatwright!

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

A sampler of male dragonfly claspers (Part 2)

March 18, 2015

The theme of the “sampler series” is simple. Male dragonfly claspers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but their function is identical for all species of dragonflies: male dragonflies use their claspers to grab and hold female dragonflies during mating.

There are seven families of dragonflies. Part 2 (of 2) features a sampler of select images showing male dragonfly claspers from the Emerald Family, Skimmer Family, and Spiketail Family. The author never has been fortunate to photograph either species of the Petaltail Family.

Emerald Family

The following image shows a Slender Baskettail dragonfly (Epitheca costalis) spotted in an open field along the trail to Hidden Pond, a small lake located at Meadowood Recreation Area.

Slender Baskettail dragonfly (male)

01 MAY 2013 | Meadowood Recreation Area | Slender Baskettail (male)

Skimmer Family

The next image shows a Bar-winged Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula axilena) spotted near a vernal pool in the forest at Huntley Meadows Park. Many members of the Skimmer Family have terminal appendages that look similar to the Bar-winged Skimmer, such as Painted Skimmer, Eastern Pondhawk, and Blue-faced Meadowhawk, to name a few species.

Bar-winged Skimmer dragonfly (young adult male)

31 MAY 2014 | Huntley Meadows Park | Bar-winged Skimmer (male)

The following image shows a battle-scarred Black Saddlebags dragonfly (Tramea lacerata) spotted alongside the boardwalk in the central wetland area hemi-marsh at Huntley Meadows Park. Black Saddlebags’ terminal appendages are unlike most members of the Skimmer Family.

Black Saddlebags dragonfly (male)

12 SEP 2014 | Huntley Meadows Park | Black Saddlebags (male)

Spiketail Family

The last image shows an Arrowhead Spiketail dragonfly (Cordulegaster obliqua) I discovered while exploring a small stream at a remote location in Huntley Meadows Park.

Arrowhead Spiketail dragonfly (male)

07 JUL 2014 | Huntley Meadows Park | Arrowhead Spiketail (male)

Related Resources:

Editor’s Notes: Part 1 (of 2) features a sampler of select images showing male dragonfly dragonfly claspers from the Clubtail Family, Cruiser Family, and Darner Family. The author has never been fortunate to photograph either species of the Petaltail Family.

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Common Baskettail dragonfly (male)

May 18, 2014

Common Baskettail dragonfly (male)

The preceding baskettail dragonfly was spotted perching in the grass along the earthen dam at Hidden Pond, a small lake located at Meadowood Recreation Area in Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

Baskettail dragonflies perch rarely. This one flew around me  in wide circles for 15-20 minutes before it landed just long enough for me to shoot two photos, one of which suffers from soft focus.

[Several species of baskettail dragonflies] have proven to be very difficult to identify, particularly from photographs. Most species are quite variable and there is evidence that they may hybridize and/or integrade, making identifications even tougher. … The single most important character [field marker] potentially visible on a photograph is the shape of the abdomen. For this reason it is very important to photograph individuals dorsally. Source Credit: Identification of Male Epitheca (Tetragoneuria) in Texas, by John Abbott.

Fortunately my photograph shows a good view of the dorsal side of the dragonfly. I tentatively identified the specimen as either a Common Baskettail dragonfly (Epitheca cynosura) or Slender Baskettail dragonfly (Epitheca costalis), probably male. I consulted the experts of the Northeast Odonata Facebook group for verification. According to Ed Lam, author and illustrator of Damselflies of the Northeast, this individual is more likely a Common Baskettail and definitely a male. Thanks for your help, Ed, including the pointer to John Abbott’s excellent article!

I think the width of the abdomen fits Common better than Slender. S4-6 look about as wide as they are long. S4-6 are longer than they are wide in Slender. Also the tips of the cerci are flared outward [in Common] while they are usually more parallel in Slender. Source Credit: Ed Lam, Northeast Odonata Facebook group.

Remember that “S4-6” refers to abdominal segments four through six (of 10), numbered from front to back.

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Slender Baskettail dragonfly (male)

May 20, 2013

The following photograph shows a Slender Baskettail dragonfly (Epitheca costalis) perching a few feet above the ground. This individual is a male as indicated by the terminal appendages at the end of its abdomen. Thanks to Dr. John Abbott, Odonata Central, for verifying my tentative identification.

Slender Baskettail dragonfly (male)

This specimen was spotted in an open field along the trail to Hidden Pond, a small lake located at Meadowood Recreation Area in Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

Copyright © 2013 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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