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Eastern Pondhawk



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Erythemis simplicicollis

Say, 1839


Order Odonata
Suborder Anisoptera
Superfamily Libelluloidea
Family Libellulidae
Genus Erythemis
Species simplicicollis (Say, 1839) [Libellula]


Identification

This is one of the most widely distributed species in the region and in all of the eastern United States. It has a green face . Young males and females are bright green becoming powder blue in older males, starting basally on the abdomen and the front of the thorax. The wings are clear. The abdomen, before becoming obscured in older males, is black with green dorsolateral spots on abdominal segments 4-6 and yellow or pale cerci. Females have a ventrally projecting spout-like ovipositor below segment 9. It is not unusual to see green males with varying degrees of pruinosity.

Size

Total length: 36-48 mm; abdomen: 24-30 mm; hindwing: 30-34 mm.

Similar Species

The western form of this species, Western Pondhawk (E. s. collocata), darker overall and males have black cerci. The abdomen of Western Pondhawk is also broader. In young males and females there is a dark dorsal abdominal stripe. Great Pondhawk (E. vesiculosa ) is larger with a more slender abdomen and dark rings on segments 4-7. Other similar skimmers can be distinguished by the face color and or markings in the wings.

Habitat

Ponds, lakes, ditches, and slow moving creeks, streams and rivers.

Discussion

This species is known from every county and parish in Arkansas and Louisiana. Its green color and common habit of resting on the ground, trash, logs or other objects, may result in its initial confusion with clubtails, but the eyes are widely joined on top of the head. This species regularly preys on a variety of small and large insects, up to and including other Eastern Pondhawks. Although Eastern Pondhawk inhabits almost any slow moving body of water, they are often found around plants on the water surface, such as water lilies, lotus and duckweed, where males patrol their territories. Males of this species display a unique "leap frogging" behavior when defending territories. A male cha sing another male will suddenly move under the male in front. This swapping of positions will often occur repeatedly. The change in males, from a green coloration to the pruinose blue over the entire thorax and first 7 abdominal segments occurs through a predictable progression of color patterns. Over a period of 2-3 weeks, this species undergoes 17 different color patterns. The rate of color change significantly decreases with both decreasing food consumption and air temperature. Two studies found that sperm from the most recent mating competes for fertilizations with sperm stored from previous matings only if the female oviposits on the following day without re-mating. Sperm mixing in the bursa of females took 24 to 48 hours, at which time the last male to mate had replaced an average of more than 57-75% of the sperm stored by females from previous matings.

Distribution

Throughout all of central and eastern U.S. and Canada, east of the Rockies.