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Halloween Penant Celithemis eponina

Just one look and its obvious how Celithemus eponina, the Halloween Pennant got its name. Its orange wings with its brown bands are distinctive and make this one of the easier dragonflies to identify. There are eight species of Celithemus and all of them are limited to the eastern United States, although a few stray into the Caribbean. The Halloween Penant is the largest of the species in this genus and it is the only one with completely yellowish-orange wings marked with broad dark brown or black stripes or splotches and a red pterostigma (the thickened, usually colored area located on the outer edge of the wing ). The mouthparts are pale yellow throughout life, and the face is yellow and darkens to brown or black with age. The abdomen is slender with pale yellow dorsal spots on segments 3-7 that darken to red with age. Size: Total length: 30-42 mm; abdomen: 20-30 mm; hindwing: 27-35 mm.

Even though these are a common pond species, it is unlikely you will spot one since we just had our our first hard freeze. You are most likely to find these between June and September skimming along the pond surface or perching on tall weeds at the pond's edge. The adults are most active in mid-morning. The larvae live in shallow weed beds in ponds and usually crawl just a few inches out of the water before they emerge as adults.

Unlike some other dragonflies that hang by their feet, this species prefers to perch upright on its long thin legs to survey the landscape for mates or prey. Even perching it is distinctive, because it holds the forewings more vertical and its hindwings horizontally. In flight they flutter almost like a butterfly, but don't let that fool you, they are agile flyers and are difficult to capture with a net. Whedon collecting in Minnesota in 1914 captured the grace of these dragonflies in his descriptions. He wrote "During windy days, and it was very windy when it was bright, they seem to delight in battling with the gale and clean like weathervanes two tallest weed stalks, their wings half set."

References:

  • Abbott, J.C. 2006. OdonataCentral: An online resource for the Odonata of North America. Austin, Texas. Available at http://www.odonatacentral.com. (Accessed: October 12, 2006)
  • Needham, J. A. , Westfall, M. Jr., & May M.A.. 2000.DRAGONFLIES OF NORTH AMERICA , 940 pp, Scientific Publishers, Gainseville Florida.

  • Whedon, A. D. 1914. Preliminary notes on the Odonata of southern Minnesota. Report of the Minnesota State Entomologist, pp. 77 -- 103.

 

 

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Last updated on April 15, 2014