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Common Baskettail



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Epitheca cynosura

Say, 1839


Order Odonata
Suborder Anisoptera
Superfamily Libelluloidea
Family Corduliidae
Genus Epitheca
Species cynosura (Say, 1839) [Libellula]


Identification

This species is brown with a hairy thorax and a spot of yellow on each side. Some individuals have a basal triangular spot extending to the 3rd antenodal crossvein in the hindwing. Others have only a basal spot of brown in each wing. The abdomen is broad and flattened in the middle segments. It is not constricted, or only slightly so, behind third abdominal segment. The male cerci, when viewed laterally have a ventral keel extending posteriorly from the ventral angle. The female caudal appendages are not longer than 2.25 mm.

Size

Total length: 36-44 mm; abdomen: 25-34 mm; hindwing: 26-30 mm.

Similar Species

Mantled Baskettail (E. semiaquea ) is similar to those individuals with a brown triangle basally in the hindwing. In Common Baskettail this brown area is typically smaller though and does not extend to the hindwing margin or nodus. Shadowdragons lack a yellow spot or stripe laterally on the thorax. The abdomen is strongly constricted behind segment 3 in both Stripe-winged (E. costalis ) and Dot-winged (E. petechialis ) Baskettails.

Habitat

Almost any permanent or temporary, quiet water, including ponds, lakes, marshes, streams and rivers, with submerged and emergent vegetation.

Discussion

Common Baskettail can be one of the most abundant early spring, mid-summer species. Larvae emerge on nearly any structure, natural or artificial, on which they can climb 1-3 m above the water, although they may emerge at distances much farther from the water. Adults may venture some distance from water and are commonly found along forest clearings and roads. Four types of flight have been recognized in this species: (1 ) a patrolling flight, consisting of extended periods of hovering, (2 ) a feeding flight seen away from water and generally occurring during midmorning or early afternoon, (3 ) a copulatory flight, where both sexes mate in flight with no hovering and usually in a linear direction, often covering 1,300 m or more, and (4 ) a swarming flight, involving both sexes and nearly always an additional species of Tetragoneuria. Females lay eggs in the usual fashion for this group releasing a large string of eggs on partially submerged vegetation or debris.

Distribution

Eastern U.S.