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Four-spotted Pennant



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Brachymesia gravida

Calvert, 1890


Order Odonata
Suborder Anisoptera
Superfamily Libelluloidea
Family Libellulidae
Genus Brachymesia
Species gravida (Calvert, 1890) [Lepthemis]


Identification

This is the most widespread and commonly encountered tropical pennant in our area. The face is black and white, becoming entirely black, along with the top of the head, in older individuals. The thorax is brown, becoming dark bluish-black with age, but less so in females. The wings have a distinct white pterostigma. There are four rows of cells beyond the forewing triangle. Males and mature females develop a dark brown spot b etween the nodus and pterostigma in all wings. The legs are black. The abdomen is brown with an interrupted longitudinal dark middorsal stripe in tenerals and females. This stripe becomes entirely black in males. The abdomen is swollen basally and compressed for a short distance thereafter, but never tapering to the end.

Size

Total length: 47-55 mm; abdomen: 30-40 mm; hindwing: 32-42 mm.

Similar Species

Young individuals are similar to Tawny Pennant (B. herbida), but the latter have a tan face and pterostigma and they lack prominent wing spots. Band-winged Dragonlet (Erythrodiplax umbrata ) is similar, but it has complete bands in the wings rather than spots and it has pale lateral spots on the middle abdominal segments.

Habitat

Ponds, lakes and roadside ditches, including brackish waters.

Discussion

This species is typical of the genus, often perching high on twigs, stems and bush tops. It may be abundant on fence wire and telephone lines. After a brief mating, females oviposit in a similar fashion to Red-tailed Pennant (B. furcata), dipping eggs into the water, sometimes guarded by the male.

Distribution

Found largely along coastal areas from New Jersey to Arizona.