This dragonfly family includes roughly 7 North American genera and 50 species, and unlike most dragonfly familes, tends to have more species found in the North than the South. They can be found in varying habitats including streams, as well as lentic habitats such as lakes, ponds, and wetlands. They are sprawlers along the benthos and climbers on plants. Nymphs can be easily confused with those of the family Libellulidae (Common Skimmers) but can be identified with close attention to the presence of a longitudinal groove on the base of the ventral surface of the labial mask. They molt into adults at roughly the same time as burrowing mayflies, one of their favorite foods.
Mid-Atlantic: 1 - 4
Upper Midwest: 0 - 5
Southeast: 1.6 - 8.9
Engulfer / Predator
+ Expanded Character List
Order: Nymph with mask-like labium below chewing mouthparts. Wings developing in wing pads. Segmented legs present, each with two claws.
Family: Suborder Anisoptera (i.e., dragonflies: with stout body shape, head more narrow than thorax and abdomen; end of abdomen with 5 short pointed projections, external gills absent). Labial mask spoon-shaped, usually with hairs inside palm of mask (dorsal premental setae) and along margins of palpal lobes (at end of mask). Ventrally, median groove extending from basal hinge of mask to about 1/3 to 1/2 way to distal margin of mask, often faint. Distal margin of each palpal lobe scalloped, with each crenulation rounded and separated by deep notches, usually ¼ to ½ as high as long, each bearing at least 1 seta. Frontal horn usually absent. Paraprocts (ventrolateral pair of posterior spines) usually less than twice as long as cerci (dorsolateral pair of posterior spines). Mature larvae 13-28 mm long.