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Tachopteryx thoreyi

Selys, 1858


Order Odonata
Suborder Anisoptera
Superfamily Aeshnoidea
Family Petaluridae
Genus Tachopteryx
Species thoreyi (Selys, 1858) [Uropetala]


Identification

The eyes are widely separated and the face is pale with black crossbands. The pterothorax is grayish with black lateral stripes. The legs are entirely black. The venation is variable, but generally with a well-developed bracevein under a noticeably long, black pterostigma. The anal triangle in the male usually has 3 cells, but may contain as many as 5. The abdomen is long and tapering. There are two distinct tufts of long white hairs dorsolaterally on segment 1. Females have an ovipositor with blades, resembling those of darners.

Size

Total length: 71-82 mm; abdomen: 50-61 mm; hindwing: 45-56 mm.

Similar Species

This species is the only gray-black dragonfly of its size in the region, and could not easily be confused with other species. The distinct behavior of perching vertically on tree trunks, discussed below, is a good field character.

Habitat

Permanent springs and seepages of hardwood forests.

Discussion

This species, although sometimes locally abundant, is uncommon throughout the eastern parts of the south-central United States. It is a rather bold species that doesn't shy from people, even landing on them when motionless. They have a distinctive behavior of lighting vertically on sunlit areas of tree trunks and cypress knees, where they can be cryptic. Although easily approachable they are strong fliers that can be evasive. Individuals are occasionally seen lower to the ground or even on stones. They were preda ceous on various sized insects, including large dragonflies. Males are often seen searching tree trunks for females or waiting nearby perched in sunlit areas. Mating occurs high in the forest canopy and females oviposit among roots in dense grasses and fallen leaves, or mud. References: Barlow (1991), Dunkle (1981), Fisher (1940), Williamson (1900a).

Distribution

Southeastern U.S. west to eastern Texas