spiny baskettail

(Epitheca spinigera)

Conservation Status
spiny baskettail
  IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern

     
  NatureServe

N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
           
 
Description
 
 

Spiny baskettail is a common, medium-sized, emerald dragonfly. It occurs across the northern Untied States and southern Canada. In Minnesota it is fairly common in the northern two thirds of the state, mostly absent in the southwest corner and the southern counties. It is found from mid-May to mid-July in wooded areas at the marshy borders of small to medium-sized lakes and ponds and along slow streams. It is tolerant of acidic waters. It also forages in clearings often a long distance from water.

Adults are 1½ to 1 long. Unlike other emerald dragonflies (Family Corduliidae), baskettails (genus Epitheca) do not show a metallic luster.

The face is yellow to brown and there is a black T-shaped spot on the forehead (frons). The large compound eyes on both the male and female meet at the top of the head. They are iridescent blue on the mature male, green on the mature female, and reddish-brown on immature individuals of both sexes. On the female the eyes are less intensely green than on other emerald dragonflies.

The thorax is dark brown with a yellowish-orange dot on each side.

The abdomen is dark brown with a row of yellowish-orange spots on each. On the male it is spindle-shaped, constricted just beyond the base, widest at segment six, and tapered to the tip. At the end of segment 10 there is a pair of sensory appendages (cerci). On the male each cercus has a small, downward-pointing tooth. This tooth is the source of the word “spiny” in this species common name. On rare occasions this spine is absent. On the female, the cerci are long, as long as segments 9 and 10, and are close together. The female lacks a needle-like tube (ovipositor) on the underside of abdominal segment 9 to disperse her eggs. In place of this she has a flat, flexible plate (subgenital plate) on the underside of segment 8. The subgenital plate is forked from near the base into two lobes that extend slightly beyond the end of segment 9. It is like a forklift with which she carries her mass, or “basket” of eggs. This feature is the source of the common name of the genus, “baskettails”.

The legs are black.

The wings are clear except for a dark cell (stigma) on the leading edge near the tip.

 
     
 

Size

 
 

Total Length: 1½ to 1

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
     
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Wooded areas at marshy edges of ponds and lakes, along streams

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Season

 
 

Mid-May to mid-July

 
     
 

Behavior

 
 

The male patrols within fifty feet of the shoreline. It is a fast flier and hovers often.

 
     
 

Life Cycle

 
 

Adults emerge en masse and are present in large numbers for a short period in the spring.

The female carries a mass (basket) of 500 to 1,000 orange eggs under her abdomen atop her subgenital plate. To disperse the eggs she attaches the mass to a submerged plant. The mass unravels into a gelatinous string up to six inches long.

 
     
 

Nymph Food

 
 

Mosquito larvae, fly larvae, mayfly larvae, other aquatic insects, and aquatic shrimp.

 
     
 

Adult Food

 
 

Mosquitoes, flies, small moths, mayflies, flying ants, and almost any other soft-bodied flying insect.

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

7, 17, 18, 24, 27, 29, 30, 72, 82.

 
  1/18/2020      
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Fairly common

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
 

Order

Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies)  
 

Suborder

Epiprocta  
  Infraorder Anisoptera (dragonflies)  
 

Superfamily

Cavilabiata  
 

Family

Corduliidae (emeralds)  
  Subfamily Corduliinae  
 

Genus

Epitheca (baskettails)  
  Subgenus Epitheca (Tetragoneuria)  
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Tetragoneuria spinigera

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

spiny baskettail

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Cercus

One of a pair of small sensory appendages at the end of the abdomen of many insects and other arthropods. In Odonata, one of the upper pair of claspers. Plural: cerci.

 

Frons

The upper part of an insect’s face, roughly corresponding to the forehead.

 

Ovipositor

A long needle-like tube on the abdomens of some female insects, used to inject eggs into soil or plant stems.

 

Stigma

In plants, the portion of the female part of the flower that is receptive to pollen. In Lepidoptera, an area of specialized scent scales on the forewing of some skippers, hairstreaks, and moths. In other insects, a thickened, dark, or opaque cell on the leading edge of the wing.

 

Subgenital plate

In male Orthoptera, the plate-like structure extending from the lower (ventral) side of the end of the abdomen underlying the genitalia.

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
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MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
 
    spiny baskettail   spiny baskettail  
           
    spiny baskettail   spiny baskettail  
           
    spiny baskettail      
           

 

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Other Videos
 
  Epitheca spinigera Feeding Swarm
MNDragonflySociety
 
   
 
About

Jun 7, 2013

May 22, 2012 north central Wright County, MN.

 
  Émergence d'Epitheca spinigera
Caroline Piché
 
   
 
About

May 24, 2016

Émergence massive d'Epitheca spinigera le 24-05-2016 AM. Parc de la Gatineau, QC. Étang de castor près de P9.

Google translation: Massive emergence of Epitheca will spin on 24-05-2016 AM. Gatineau Park, QC. Beaver pond near P9.

 
       

 

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Created: 1/19/2020

Last Updated:

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