Sunday, May 13, 2018

Selys's Sundragon Dragonfly Habitats: Darkened Wing, Hair, Orange Dots

Summary: North American Selys's sundragon dragonfly habitats get dark leading edges and wing bases, depressed foreheads, hairy thoraxes and orange-dotted abdomens.

Selys's sundragon dragonfly (Helocordulia selysii); Richmond County, south central North Carolina; April 18, 2010: John Flannery (DrPhotoMoto), CC BY SA 2.0, via Flickr

North American Selys's sundragon dragonfly habitats attract wet woodland plant-loving cultivators and naturalists to distribution ranges from Delaware and Maryland through Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee and West Virginia and everywhere in-between.
Selys's sundragons bear their common name as an odonatologist's namesake and for sunlit flights and the scientific name Helocordulia selysii (Selys's sun [flying] club [bellied dragonfly]). Both names commemorate Baron Michel Edmond de Sélys Longchamps (May 25, 1813-Dec. 11, 1900), whose publications after 1845 contain some classifications by collaborator August Hermann Hagen. Scientists differentiate the Hagen (May 30, 1817-Nov. 9, 1893) descriptions from the Sélys descriptions in the Belgian odonatologist's publications, with the subsequent citation Hagen in Selys.
Selys's sundragon life cycles expect clean, cool, sandy-bottomed, small forest rivers and streams with low-lying, perch-friendly vegetation, nearby woodland clearings and edges and open sunlit banks.

March through May function as earliest to latest flight seasons even though March and April furnish wildlife mapping opportunities in Selys's sundragon coastal and inland niches.
Selys's sundragons go back and forth, from mid-morning to mid-afternoon, on slow food-searching cruises and mate-seeking patrols of short territorial stretches of rivers and stream banks. They hang obliquely from near-ground perches on low-lying herbaceous and weedy plant stems and hover briefly but regularly as they head through clearings, edges and glades. Early one- to two-month itineraries in more inaccessible niches within Appalachian Mountain and nearby states impede investigations of all three intervals in Selys's sundragon life cycles.
Ants, assassin flies, biting midges, ducks, falcons, fish, flycatchers, frogs, grebes, lizards, spiders, turtles and water beetles, bugs and mites jeopardize North American emerald dragonfly habitats.

Immature Selys's sundragons keep unassuming, unobtrusive presences, profiles and proportions just as adults know near-ground, perch-like, understory-blended black-browns, blacks, blues, blue-greens,brown-blacks, browns, oranges and yellows.
Incompletely metamorphosing life cycles lead Selys's sundragons from eggs laid over water to immature, little adult-like, multimolting, nonflying larvae, naiads or nymphs and to molted tenerals. Recently emerged, shiny-winged, soft-bodied, weak-flying tenerals must maintain permanent colors and manage physical and sexual maturation in order to mate and manipulate eggs into ovipositing sites. Aphids, beetles, borers, caddisflies, copepods, crane flies, dobsonflies, gnats, leafhoppers, mosquitoes, rotifers, scuds, water fleas and worms nourish common emerald members of the Corduliidae dragonfly family.
North American Selys's sundragon dragonfly habitats offer season's coldest temperatures, northward to southward, from 0 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 17.77 to minus 6.66 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 American emeralds.
Abdominal sides with larger orange spots, leading edges on clear hindwings more prominently black-marked and untapered abdominal dimensions thicker than males qualify as adult female hallmarks. Adult males reveal blue or blue-green eyes; yellow-orange faces; black legs; toothed claspers; green-highlighted, hairy brown thoraxes; and brown-black, clubbed, orange-, side-spotted, orange-, single-, thick-ringed abdomens. Adults show off 1.49- to 1.61-inch (38- to 41-millimeter) head-body lengths, 1.14- to 1.22-inch (29- to 31-millimeter) abdomens and 1.02- to 1.10-inch (26- to 28-millimeter) hindwings.
Black-marked leading edges and wing bases, depressed upper foreheads, hairy thoraxes, orange-spotted abdomens tell Selys's sundragons from other odonates in North American Selys's sundragon dragonfly habitats.

Selys's sundragon dragonfly (Helocordulia selysii) consuming prey; March 29, 2009: John Flannery (DrPhotoMoto), CC BY SA 2.0, via Flickr

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

Image credits:
Selys's sundragon dragonfly (Helocordulia selysii); Richmond County, south central North Carolina; April 18, 2010: John Flannery (DrPhotoMoto), CC BY SA 2.0, via Flickr @
Selys's sundragon dragonfly (Helocordulia selysii) consuming prey; March 29, 2009: John Flannery (DrPhotoMoto), CC BY SA 2.0, via Flickr @

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. "Helocordulia Needham, 1901 (Sundragons)." Aquatic Insects of Michigan > Odonata (Dragon- and Damselflies) of Michigan > Anisoptera Selys, 1854 -- Dragonflies > Corduliidae Selys, 1850 (Emeralds).
Available @
"Helocordulia selysii." James Cook University-Medusa: The Odonata - Dragonflies and Damselflies > Anisoptera > Corduliidae > Helocordulia.
Available via James Cook University-Medusa @
Paulson, Dennis. Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East. Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, Princeton Field Guides, 2011.
Sélys-Longchamps, M. Edm. (Michel Edmond) de. "Secondes Additions au Synopsis des Cordulines: 23 bis. Cordulia? selysii, Hagen." Bulletin de l'Académie Royale des Sciences, des Lettres et les Beaux-Arts de Belgique, quarante-septième année (série 2), tome XLV, no. 3 (séance du 2 mars 1878): 189-191. Bruxelles (Brussels), Belgium: F. Hayez, MDCCCLXXVIII (1878).
Available via Biodiversity Heritage Library @
Available via HathiTrust @

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