Sunday, April 8, 2018

Sweetflag Spreadwing Damselfly Habitats: Big Ovipositor, Dark Thorax


Summary: North American sweetflag spreadwing damselfly habitats in Canada and the United States get big ovipositors and blue-, dark-, gray-, green-striped thoraxes.


sweetflag spreadwing damselfly (Lestes forcipatus) at Parc des Prairies, Laval-des-Rapides, southwestern Quebec, eastern Canada; Aug. 3, 2014: Jean-Marie Van der Maren (jmvdMaren), CC BY ND 2.0, via Flickr

North American sweetflag spreadwing damselfly habitats aggregate arborists, master gardeners, master naturalists and tree stewards into distribution ranges from Maine through Virginia westward through Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Minnesota, Kansas, Colorado and Oregon.
Sweetflag spreadwings bear their common name as southerners with preferences for sweetflag (Acorus calamus) and the scientific name Lestes forcipatus (robber [with claspers like] forceps). Common names conserve the consensus of scientific committees convened by the Dragonfly Society of the Americas, publisher of a news journal and of peer-reviewed scientific articles. Descriptions in 1842 by Jules Pierre Rambur (July 21, 1801-Aug. 10, 1870), entomologist from Chinon, France, and specialist in Andalusian and Corsican insects, define scientific designations.
Sweetflag spreadwing damselfly lifespans expect ephemeral, fishless, temporary vernal pools and permanent bogs, ferns, lakes and ponds with emergent vegetation for foraging, mating, ovipositing and perching.

April through October function as maximum, most southerly flight seasons even though June through July furnish wildlife mapping opportunities everywhere throughout sweetflag spreadwing damselfly habitat niches.
Fly-catching, long-spined long legs give sweetflag spreadwings advantages in going from perches in open, sunlit woodlands as salliers (in-the-air hunters) of flying insects before afternoon matings. Females, males and tandem pairs never hover over open water even though they hasten to afternoon perches alongside or in bogs, ferns, lakes, ponds and pools. Afternoon perches invite singles to tandem mating near, and ovipositing (egg-depositing) in, open, somewhat waterlogged, vegetated bog-, fern-, lake-, pond-, pool-side soils or in shallow waters.
Ants, biting midges, ducks, falcons, flycatchers, frogs, grebes, lizards, robber flies, spiders, turtles and water beetles, bugs and mites jeopardize North American sweetflag spreadwing damselfly habitats.

Immature sweetflag spreadwing damselflies know dull, faded, light, pale colors and smaller size ranges while incomplete metamorphosis keeps them as predatory, slow-moving, wingless precursors of tenerals.
Egg-hatched, multi-molting larval, naiad or nymph stages lead into the last molt as shiny-winged, soft-bodied, weak-flying tenerals that look first brown, then dark-ringed and ultimately metallic. Afternoon-mated adults manipulate eggs into live, upright stems within bulrush, cattail, rush stands, buckbean and sedge floating mats and sweetflag beds in mud or in shallow waters. Pond spreadwing members of the Calopterygidae broad-winged family need aphids, beetles, borers, caddisflies, copepods, crane flies, dobsonflies, gnats, leafhoppers, mosquitoes, rotifers, scuds, water fleas and worms.
North American sweetflag spreadwing damselfly habitats offer season-coldest temperatures, northward to southward, from minus 45 to zero degrees Fahrenheit (minus 42.77 to minus 17.77 degrees Celsius).

Beech, bellflower, birch, bladderwort, cattail, daisy, grass, greenbrier, heath, laurel, madder, maple, nettle, olive, pepperbush, pine, pondweed, rush, sedge, water-lily and willow families promote sweetflag spreadwings.
Blue eyes, broad pale thoracic fronts, dark abdomens, dark thoraxes with broad midline and shoulder stripes and large ovipositors qualify as adult female hallmarks. Adult males reveal blue eyes and upper lips and somewhat gray-powdered black thoraxes with blue-green, narrow frontal stripes and pale undersides and somewhat gray-powdered metallic green-black abdomens. Adults show off 1.29- to 1.65-inch (33- to 42-millimeter) head-body lengths, 1.02- to 1.18-inch (26- to 30-millimeter) abdomens and 0.79- to 1.02-inch (20- to 26-millimeter) hindwings.
Blue-striped thoraxes and small ovipositors always tell respectively on male and female northern and southern spreadwings in transit through North American sweetflag spreadwing damselfly habitats.

male sweetflag spreadwing damselfly (above) and female sweetflag spreadwing damselfly (below): U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-New England District, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Acknowledgment
My special thanks to talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the internet.

Image credits:
sweetflag spreadwing damselfly (Lestes forcipatus) at Parc des Prairies, Laval-des-Rapides, southwestern Quebec, eastern Canada; Aug. 3, 2014: Jean-Marie Van der Maren (jmvdMaren), CC BY ND 2.0, via Flickr @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/jmvdmaren/16327519662/
male sweetflag spreadwing damselfly (above) and female sweetflag spreadwing damselfly (below): U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-New England District, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons @ https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lestes_forcipatus.gif

For further information:
Abbott, John C. Dragonflies and Damselflies of Texas and the South-Central United States: Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. Princeton NJ; Oxford UK: Princeton University Press, 2005.
Beaton, Giff. Dragonflies & Damselflies of Georgia and the Southeast. Athens GA; London UK: University of Georgia Press, 2007.
Berger, Cynthia. Dragonflies. Mechanicsburg PA: Stackpole Books: Wild Guide, 2004.
Bright, Ethan. "Lestes forcipatus Rambur, 1842: 246 -- Sweetflag Spreadwing." Aquatic Insects of Michigan > Odonata (Dragon- and Damselflies) of Michigan > Zygoptera, Selys, 1854 > Lestidae, Calvert 1901 (Spreadwings) > Lestes Leach, 1815 (Pond Spreadwings).
Available @ http://www.aquaticinsects.org/sp/Odonata/sp_oom.html
"Lestes forcipatus." James Cook University-Medusa: The Odonata - Dragonflies and Damselflies > Zygoptera > Lestidae > Lestes.
Available via James Cook University-Medusa @ https://medusa.jcu.edu.au/Dragonflies/openset/displaySpecies.php?spid=4467
Paulson, Dennis. Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, Princeton Field Guides, 2011.
Rambur, P. (Jules Pierre). "4. Lestes forcipata, mihi." Histoire Naturelle des Insectes. Névroptères: 246. Paris, France: Librairie Encyclopédique de Roret, 1842.
Available via HathiTrust @ https://hdl.handle.net/2027/mdp.39015058433833?urlappend=%3Bseq=278
Available via Internet Archive @ https://archive.org/stream/histoirenaturel53buffgoog#page/n291/mode/1up


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