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Desert Firetail



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Telebasis salva

Hagen, 1861


Order Odonata
Suborder Zygoptera
Superfamily Coenagrionoidea
Family Coenagrionidae
Genus Telebasis
Species salva (Hagen, 1861) [Agrion]


Identification

Males and females are essential identical in coloration to Duckweed Firetail (T. byersi). The male cerci are slightly longer than in Duckweed Firetail, reaching 2/3-3/4 the length of segment 10. The dorsal surface of each appendage is straight for a quarter of its length, when viewed laterally, then abruptly turns downward. Each appendage bears two separate, subapical, medial black teeth. The paraprocts are half again as long as the cerci and slightly more upturned than in Duckweed Firetail. The mesostigmal plates of the female are subtriangular with little sculpturing, closely resembling the Duckweed Firetail.

Size

Total length: 24-29 mm; abdomen: 19-22 mm; hindwing: 12-16 mm.

Similar Species

Desert Firetail is much more widely distributed than Duckweed Firetail. This species is found throughout the Texan biotic province westward and southward through Central America to Venezuela. These two species apparently don't overlap in east Texas.

Habitat

Ponds, lakes, pools, springs and slow reaches of streams with open sunlight and abundant emergent vegetation.

Discussion

This species is widespread throughout the southwestern United States, southward into Central America. Several authors have noted the species' habit of flying low over the water in and out of vegetation, literally taunting a prospective predator or collector. A study of a north-central Texas population revealed that mating lasted an average of 80 min. Egg laying followed with the female accompani ed by the male and lasting 25 minutes on average. Preferred egg laying substrates include stems, algal mats and floating sticks. Females likely lay eggs at different localities on different days, improving survival of their eggs. Interestingly, males abandoned their initial site if a female was not obtained on the first day.

Distribution

Southwestern U.S. from California to Texas southward through Mexico to Venezuela.