• Kenneth J. Tennessen


The 13 genera and 43 species of Aeshnidae that occur in North America are keyed and diagnostic structural characters are illustrated. Aeshnid nymphs are elongate with a flat prementum, 6- or 7-segmented antennae, and 3-segmented tarsi. Although body shape is similar among the genera, many aeshnids can be identified to genus in the field based on head shape. Characters that are used to distinguish the genera are head and palpal blade shape, dorsal abdominal pattern and structure, posterolateral spines, relative lengths of anal appendages, and epiproct shape. Several genera, especially Aeshna and Rhionaeschna, are difficult to distinguish, and species identification within such genera requires examination of microscopic details. Three genera of aeshnids in North America are monotypic, Basiaeschna, Epiaeschna and Nasiaeschna; those genera, plus Gomphaeschna, are endemic to North America. The genus Hemianax (a migrant species has been recorded in the Lesser Antilles that possibly could migrate to the southern United States) is included in the key to genera and diagnosed in order to distinguish it from Anax. Aeshnids occupy nearly all types of freshwater aquatic habitats, with the likely exception of seepage rivulets. Life cycles range from univoltine to semivoltine; much more research is needed on development, life cycles and ontogenetic change.


  1. Asahina S (1954) A morphological study of a relic dragonfly Epiophlebia superstes Selys (Odonata, Anisozygoptera). The Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science, Tokyo, 153 ppGoogle Scholar
  2. Bechly G, Nel A, Martínez-Delclòs X, Jarzembowski EA, Coram R, Martill D, Fleck G, Escuillié F, Wisshak MM, Maisch M (2001) A revision and phylogenetic study of Mesozoic Aeshnoptera, with description of several new families, genera and species (Insecta: Odonata: Anisoptera). Neue Palaontologische Abhandlungen 4:1–219Google Scholar
  3. Boose AE (2014) Epiaeschna heros (Swamp Darner) and survivorship during dry periods in vernal pools. Argia 26(1):35–37Google Scholar
  4. Bridges CA (1994) Catalogue of the family-group, genus-group, and species-group names of the Odonata of the world (3rd Edn). Urbana, Illinois, 905 ppGoogle Scholar
  5. Butler SG (1998) The larvae of the European Aeshnidae (Anisoptera). Odonatologica 27(1):1–23Google Scholar
  6. Byers CF (1927) Notes on some American dragonfly nymphs (Odonata, Anisoptera). J N Y Entomol Soc 35:65–75Google Scholar
  7. Byers CF (1930) A contribution to the knowledge of Florida Odonata. University of Florida Publication, Biological Science Series 1(1):1–327, Gainesville University of FloridaGoogle Scholar
  8. Cabot L (1881) The immature state of the Odonata. Part 2. Subfamily Aeshnina. Mem Mus Comp Zool Harvard Coll 17:1–52Google Scholar
  9. Calil ER, Carvalho AL (1999) Descrições de larva de última estádio e do adulto de Triacanthagyna septima (Selys, 1857) (Odonata, Aeshnidae), com notas sobre biologia de espécie. Revista Brasileira de Entomologia 43:73–83Google Scholar
  10. Calvert PP (1928) Report on Odonata, including notes on some internal organs of the larvae collected by the Barbados-Antigua Expedition from the University of Iowa in 1918, University of Iowa studies in natural history, vol 12. University of Iowa, Iowa City, pp 3–44Google Scholar
  11. Calvert PP (1934) The rates of growth, larval development and seasonal distribution of dragonflies of the genus Anax (Odonata: Aeshnidae). Proc Am Philos Soc 73(1):1–70Google Scholar
  12. Calvert PP (1956) The Neotropical species of the “subgenus Aeshna” sensu Selysii 1883 (Odonata). Mem Am Entomol Soc 15:1–251Google Scholar
  13. Carvalho A (1992a) Revalidation of the genus Remartinia Navas, 1911, with the description of a new species and a key to the genera of Neotropical Aeshnidae (Anisoptera). Odonatologica 21(3):289–298Google Scholar
  14. Carvalho AL (1992b) Aspectos da biologia de Coryphaeschna perrensi (McLachlan, 1887) (Odonata: Aeshnidae), com ênfase no período larval. Revista Brasileira de Entomología 36:791–802Google Scholar
  15. Carvalho AL, Ferreira N (1989) Descrição da larva de Gynacantha mexicana e notas sobre sua biologia. Revista Brasiliera de Entomologia 33(3/4):413–419Google Scholar
  16. Chelmick DG (1999) Larvae of the genus Anax in Africa (Anisoptera: Aeshnidae). Odonatologica 28(3):209–218Google Scholar
  17. Clausen W (1984) The exuviae of A. juncea (L.) and A. subarctica (walk.). J Brit Dragonfly Society 1:59–67Google Scholar
  18. Corbet PS (1957) The life-history of the emperor dragonfly. Anax imperator Leach (Odonata: Aeshnidae) J Anim Ecol 26:1–69Google Scholar
  19. Corbet PS (1962) A Biology of Dragonflies. H. F. and G. Witherby, London, p 247Google Scholar
  20. Corbet PS (1999) Dragonflies: behavior and ecology of Odonata. Comstock Publishing Associates, Cornell University Press, Ithaca/New York, 829 ppGoogle Scholar
  21. Davenport T (2018) Remartinia secreta, first U.S. record and significant range extension, photographed in the path of the proposed U.S./Mexico border wall. Argia 30(1):12–14Google Scholar
  22. Davies DAL, Tobin P (1985) The dragonflies of the world: a systematic list of the extant species of Odonata Vol. 2 Anisoptera. Societas Internationalis Odonatologica Rapid Communications (Supplements) 5:1–151Google Scholar
  23. De Marmels J (1975) Die larve von Hemianax ephippiger (Burmeister 1839) (Anisoptera: Aeshnidae). Odonatologica 4(4):259–263Google Scholar
  24. De Marmels J (1992) Dragonflies (Odonata) from the Sierras of Tapirapeco and Unturan, in the extreme south of Venezuela. Acta Biologica Venezuelica 14:57–78Google Scholar
  25. Dumont H (1977) On migrations of Hemianax ephippiger (Burmeister) and Tramea basilaris (P. De Beauvois) in west and north-west Africa in the winter of 1975/1976 (Anisoptera: Aeshnidae, Libellulidae). Odonatologica 6(1):13–17Google Scholar
  26. Dumont HJ, Desmet K (1990) Transsahara and transmediterranean migratory activity of Hemianax ephippiger (Burm.) in 1988 and 1989 (Anisoptera: Aeshnidae). Odonatologica 19(2):181–185Google Scholar
  27. Dunkle SW (1977) Larvae of the genus Gomphaeschna (Odonata: Aeshnidae). Fla Entomol 60:223–225CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Dunkle SW (1985) Larval growth in Nasiaeschna pentacantha (Rambur) (Anisoptera: Aeshnidae). Odonatologica 14:29–35Google Scholar
  29. Fincke O (1992) Interspecific competition for tree holes: consequences for mating systems and coexistence in Neotropical damselflies. Am Nat 139:80–101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Fincke O (1999) Organization of predator assemblages in Neotropical tree holes: effects of abiotic factors and priority. Ecol Entomol 24:13–23CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Fraser FC (1943) Report on the Odonata collected by the Oxford University Cayman Islands biological expedition, 1938. Ann Mag Nat Hist 11(10):398–405CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. García-Díaz J (1938) An ecological survey of the fresh water insects of Puerto Rico. 1. The Odonata: with new life histories. J Agric Univ P R 22(1):43–97Google Scholar
  33. Garman P (1927) The Odonata or dragonflies of Connecticut. Connecticut Geol Nat Hist Surv Bull 39:1–331Google Scholar
  34. Geijskes DC (1943) Notes on the Odonata of Surinam. III. The genus Coryphaeschna, with descriptions of a new species and the nymph of C. virens. Entomol News 54(3):31–72Google Scholar
  35. Geijskes DC (1968) Anax longipes versus Anax concolor, Notes on the Odonata of Surinam X. Studies on the Fauna of Suriname and the Other Guyanas, vol 10. Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, pp 67–100Google Scholar
  36. Gentilini G, Peters G (1993) The Upper Miocene aeshnids of Monte Castellano, central Italy, and their relationships to extant species (Anisoptera: Aeshnidae). Odonatologica 22(2):147–178Google Scholar
  37. Gómez-Anaya JA, Novelo-Guttiérez R, Arce-Pérez R (2000) Odonata de la zona de influencia de la central hidroelectrica “Ing. Fernando Hiriart Balderrama” (Ph Zimapan), Hidalgo, Mexico. Folia Entomol Mex 108:1–34Google Scholar
  38. González-Soriano E, Novelo-Gutiérrez R (1998) Oplonaeschna magna sp. nov. (Odonata: Aeshnidae), from Mexico with a description of its larva. Revista de Biologia Tropical 46(3):705–715Google Scholar
  39. Halverson TG (1984) Autecology of two Aeshna species (Odonata) in western Virginia. Can Entomol 116:567–578CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Jarzembowski EA (1988) A new aeshnid dragonfly from the Lower Cretaceous of south-east England. Palaeontology 31(3):763–769Google Scholar
  41. Jödicke R (2003) Mid-winter occurrence of dragonflies in southern Tunisia (Insecta: Odonata). Kaupia 12:119–128Google Scholar
  42. Johnson C (1968) Seasonal ecology of the dragonfly Oplonaeschna armata Hagen (Odonata: Aeshnidae). Am Midl Nat 80(2):449–457CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Johnson DM, Coney CC, Westfall MJ (1980) The Odonata of Bays Mountain Park, Sullivan County, Tennessee. J Tenn Acad Sci 55:73–76Google Scholar
  44. Kennedy CH (1917) Notes on the life history and ecology of the dragonflies (Odonata) of central California and Nevada. Proc US Natl Mus 52:483–635CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Kennedy CH (1919) The naiad of the odonate genus Coryphaeschna. Entomol News 30(4):105–108Google Scholar
  46. Kime JB (1974) Ecological relationships among three species of aeshnid larvae (Odonata: Aeshnidae). Ph.D. thesis, University of WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  47. Kumar A (1973) Description of the larvae of Anax nigrofasicatus nigrolineatus Fraser, 1935 and A. parthenope parthenope (Selys, 1839) from India, with a key to the known larvae of the Indian representatives of the genus Anax Leach, 1815 (Anisoptera: Aeshnidae). Odonatologica 2(2):83–90Google Scholar
  48. Machet P, Duquef M (2004) Un visiteur inattendu, et de taille!...Hemianax ephippiger (Burmeister, 1839) capturé à la Guyane française. Martinia 20:121–124Google Scholar
  49. Macklin JM (1963) Notes on the life history of Anax junius (Drury) (Odonata: Aeshnidae). Proc Indiana Acad Sci 73:154–163Google Scholar
  50. May ML (2013) A critical overview of progress in studies of migration of dragonflies (Odonata: Anisoptera), with emphasis on North America. J Insect Conserv 17:1–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. May ML, Gregoire JA, Gregoire SM, Lubertazzi MA, Matthews JH (2017) Emergence phenology, uncertainty, and the evolution of migratory behavior in Anax junius (Odonata: Aeshnidae). PLOS One 12(9):1–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Merritt RW, Cummins KW, Berg MB (2008) An introduction to the Aquat Insects of North America, 4th edn. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, DubuqueGoogle Scholar
  53. Meurgey F (2006) Anax ephippiger (Burmeister, 1839), a new species for the West Indies. Argia 18(1):21–22Google Scholar
  54. Meurgey F, Weber G (2007) The Odonata of Dominica, British West Indies – 2006 collecting trip. Argia 18(4):14–15Google Scholar
  55. Musser RJ (1962) Dragonfly nymphs of Utah (Odonata: Anisoptera). University of Utah Biological Series 12 (6):16–16, Salt Lake City, University of UtahGoogle Scholar
  56. Needham JG (1901) Aquatic insects in the Adirondacks. N Y State Mus Bull 47:383–612Google Scholar
  57. Needham JG (1904) New dragonfly nymphs in the United States National Museum. Proc US Natl Mus 27:685–720CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Needham JG, Hart CA (1901) The dragonflies (Odonata) of Illinois. Part I. Petaluridae, Aeschnidae, and Gomphidae. Bull Ill State Lab Nat Hist 6:1–94Google Scholar
  59. Needham JG, Westfall MJ Jr (1955) A manual of the dragonflies of North America (Anisoptera). University of California Press, Berkeley, 615 ppGoogle Scholar
  60. Needham JG, Westfall MJ, Jr. May ML (2000) Dragonflies of North America, rev edn. Scientific Publishers, Gainesville, 940 ppGoogle Scholar
  61. Needham JG, Westfall MJ Jr, May ML (2014) Dragonflies of North America, 3rd edn. Scientific Publishers, Gainesville, 657 ppGoogle Scholar
  62. Nikula B, Ryan JL, Burne MR (2007) A field guide to the dragonflies and damselflies of Massachusetts, 2nd edn. Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, WestboroughGoogle Scholar
  63. Novelo-Gutiérrez R (1998) Description of the larva of Remartinia secreta and notes on the larva of Remartinia luteipennis florida (Odonata: Aeshnidae). Can Entomol 130:893–897CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Novelo-Gutiérrez R, González-Soriano E (1991) Odonata de la Reserva de la Biósfera La Michilia, Durango, México, Parte II. Náyades. Folia Entomol Mex 81:107–164Google Scholar
  65. Novelo-Guttiérez R, Tennessen KJ (2010) Description of the larva of Aeshna persephone Donnelly, 1961 (Odonata: Aeshnidae). Zootaxa 2484:61–67CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. OdonataCentral (2018) Accessed 4 Jan 2018
  67. Palacino-Rodriguez F, Palacino DA, Rache L, Cordero-Rivera A, Penagos AC, Lamelas-Lopez L (2018) Larval development and behavior of Rhionaeschna marchali Rambur (Anisoptera: Aeshnidae) under captivity conditions. Int J Odonatol 21(1):55–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Paulson DR (1966) The dragonflies (Odonata: Anisoptera) of southern Florida. PhD dissertation, University of Miami, 603 ppGoogle Scholar
  69. Paulson DR (1994) Two new species of Coryphaeschna from Middle America, and a discussion of the red species of the genus (Anisoptera: Aeshnidae). Odonatologica 23(4):379–398Google Scholar
  70. Paulson DR, Jenner CE (1971) Population structure in overwintering larval Odonata in North Carolina in relation to adult flight season. Ecology 52(1):96–107CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Peters G (1988) Bionomische Beobachtungen und taxonomische Untersuchungen an Anisoptera von Cuba und dem Östlichen Mexico. (Insecta: Odonata). Deutsche Entomologische Zeitschrift 35:221–247CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Rehn AC (2000) A phyogenetic analysis of higher level relationships in the insect order Odonata. Dissertation, University of California DavisGoogle Scholar
  73. Ris F (1918) Libellen (Odonata) aus der Region der amerikanischen Kordilleren von Costarica bis Catamarca. Archiv fur Naturgeschichte 9:1–197Google Scholar
  74. Russell RW, May ML, Soltesz KL, Fitzpatrick JW (1998) Massive swarm migrations of dragonflies (Odonata) in eastern North America. Am Midl Nat 140:325–342CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Santos ND (1973) Contribuição ao conhecimento da fauna da Guanabara e arredores. 81. Descrição da ninfa de Triacanthagyna caribbea Williamson, 1923 (Odonata: Aeshnidae). Atas da Sociedade de Biologia do Rio de Janeiro 16:53–54Google Scholar
  76. Sibley FC (2007) Second record of Anax ephippiger (Vagrant Emperor) from the West Indies. Argia 18(4):17Google Scholar
  77. Smock LA (1988) Life histories, abundance and distribution of some macroinvertebrates from a South Carolina, USA coastal plain stream. Hydrobiologia 157:193–208CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Tennessen KJ (2001) Coryphaeschna huaorania spec. nov. from central Ecuador with keys to all species in the genus (Odonata: Aeshnidae). Int J Odonatol 4(1):71–81CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Tennessen KJ (2008) Odonata. In: Merritt RW, Cummins KW, Berg MB (eds) An introduction to the aquatic insects of North America, 4th edn. Kendall/Hunt, Dubuque, pp 237–294Google Scholar
  80. Trottier R (1971) Effect of temperature on the life-cycle of Anax junius (Odonata: Aeshnidae) in Canada. Can Entomol 103:1671–1683CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Von Ellenrieder N (2003) A synopsis of the Neotropical species of ‘Aeshna’ Fabricius: the genus Rhionaeschna Förster (Odonata: Aeshnidae). Tijdschrift voor Entomologie 146:67–207CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Walker EM (1912) The North American dragonflies of the genus Aeshna. University of Toronto studies, biology series 11:1–212, Toronto : University of Toronto LibraryGoogle Scholar
  83. Walker EM (1958) The Odonata of Canada and Alaska, vol. 2. Part III.: The Anisoptera, four families. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 318 ppCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Watson MC (1956) The utilization of mandibular armature in taxonomic studies of anisopterous nymphs. Trans Am Entomol Soc 81:155–202CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Wighton DC (1987) Gomphaeschna obliqua spec. nov., a new species of Gomphaeschninae from the lower Cretaceous of Northeastern Brazil (Anisoptera: Aeshnidae). Odonatologica 16(3):311–314Google Scholar
  86. Wighton DC, Wilson MVH (1986) The Gomphaeschninae (Odonata: Aeshnidae): new fossil genus, reconstructed phylogeny, and geographical history. Syst Entomol 11:505–522CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. Williams FX (1937) Notes on the biology of Gynacantha nervosa Rambur (Aeschninae), a crepuscular dragonfly in Guatemala. Pan Pac Entomol 13(1–2):1–8Google Scholar

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

Personalised recommendations