• Kenneth J. Tennessen


The family Libellulidae is the largest group of dragonflies in North America with 29 genera and 113 species, including one of the smallest dragonflies in the world (Nannothemis bella, total length of F-0 <10 mm). Libellulid nymphs resemble nymphs of Corduliidae, but the prementum lacks a ventromedial groove which all corduliids possess. Three libellulid genera are monotypic and endemic to North America, and another seven genera are represented by only one species in North America. Nearly every type of water body, from seeps and streams to ponds, lakes, reservoirs, swamps, marshes, ditches, bogs and even some temporary pools, is inhabited by some species of libellulid. The family is characterized by a scoop-shaped prementum lacking a ventromedial groove and usually having many long setae, large curved palpi also with long setae, setose legs, and posterolateral spines only on S8 and S9 (sometimes vestigial or absent). Some genera are difficult to separate, and species identification is difficult in most genera. The keys presented rely on a diverse set of characters, including compound eye shape, premental setae, ligula, palpal setae and height of the distal crenations, middorsal hooks, posterolateral spines, various other spines and setae, abdominal color pattern, and anal appendages. The most poorly known genus is Celithemis with six of the eight species not adequately described. Nymphs of 15 species remain undescribed (13%), but only three species are still unknown in the nymphal stage, Libellula gaigei, Planiplax sanguiniventris and Tauriphila azteca.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth J. Tennessen
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Florida State Collection of ArthropodsGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.WautomaUSA

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