Aquatic Insects of Michigan

by Ethan Bright, Museum of Zoology Insect Division and School of Natural Resources and Environment
University of Michigan

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Gomphaeschna Selys, 1871 - Pygmy Darners

A genus of two species endemic to eastern North American. Little is known about the nymphal ecology or habitat of this species in Michigan, and our records are only of adult specimens. Most specimens collected so far are of Gomphaeschna furcillata, but G. antilope has also been collected in northern Michigan, far from its known distribution (Hill 2011). Based on proximity of collected adults, both in Michigan and Wisconsin, immatures probably reside in densely wooded wetland or alderswamp habitats (see Tennessen 1992). Dunkle (1977) described habitat, rearing and emergence of larvae from swamps in Delaware and Flordia, and revised Walker's (1958) nymphal description. The V-shaped notch of the median lobe of the prementum with its plumous-fringed anterior margin as well as the very long, 6- or 7-segmented antennae (about equal to the length of the head) clearly distinguish this species from other Michigan aeshnid general. Emergence has not been described, but based on collection of adults is probably late-May or early-June (Tennessen and Hudson 1997). Kennedy (1936) provides detailed information about female ovipositioning from a bog near Ithaca, New York, as well as egg and early larval development in the lab. Adults are described in Needham et al. 2000.

Taxonomic references (Wright 1949, Neeham and Westfall 1955, Walker 1958, Louton 1982, Needham et al. 2000, Tennessen 2019)


    1a a. Width of hindwing at level of nodus less than the distance from the nodus to the pterostigma Gomphaeschna furcillata (Say)
    b. Hindwings with 2 cell rows distally between veins M2 and Rs and veins M3 and M4
    c. Two or more bridge crossveins present
    d. Male cerci, in dorsal view, separated at the base by a distance about 2x as great as width of each cercus
    1b a. Width of hindwing at level of nodus at least equal to the distance from the nodus to the pterostimga Gomphaeschna antilope (Hagen)
    b. Hindwings with 1 cell row throughout their length between veins M2 and Rs and veins M3 and M4
    c. Usually only 1 bridge crossvein present
    d. Male cerci, in dorsal view, separated at the base by a distance about 1x as great as (about equal) the width of each cercus

Mature Nymphs

    1a a. Antennae each with 6 segments Gomphaeschna furcillata (Say)
    b. Pale dorsolateral spots present on thorax and abdomen
    c. Tip of epiproct not reaching level of paraprocts
    d. Palpal blade with approximately evenly-sized teeth
    1b a. Antennae each with 7 segments Gomphaeschna antilope (Hagen)
    b. Thorax and abdomen brown, without pale dorsolateral spots
    c. Tip of epiproct exceeds level of tips of paraprocts
    d. Palpal blade with alternating large and small teeth


    Dunkle SW. 1977. Larvae of the genus Gomphaeschna (Odonata:Aeshnidae). The Florida Entomologist 60(3):223-225.
    Hill C. 2011. Gomphaeschna antilope (Taper-tailed Darner) new for Michigan: a mystery ode and an ode mystery. Argia 23(3): 21-22.
    Kennedy CH. 1936. The habits and early stages of the dragonfly, Gomphaeschna furcillata (Say). Proceedings of the Indiana Academy of Science 45:315-322.
    Kormondy EJ. 1958.
    Catalogue of the Odonata of Michigan. Miscellaneous Publications of the Museum of Zoology,University of Michigan 104. 43pp.
    Needham JG, Westfall MJ. 1955.
    A manual of the dragonflies of North America (Anisoptera), including the Greater Antilles and the provinces of the Mexican border. University of California Press: Berkeley. xii+ 615 pp.
    Needham JG, Westfall MJ, May ML. 2000. Dragonflies of North America, Revised Edition. Scientific Publishers, Gainesville, Florida, USA. xv + 939 p.
    O'Brien M. 1997. Surveying for Odonata in the Huron Mountains in 1996. Williamsonia 1(1):4.
    Say, T. 1839. Descriptions of new North American neuropterous insects and observations on some already described by (the late) Th. Say. Journal of the Academy of Natural Science of Philadelphia 8:9-46.
    Selys-Longchamps 1871.
    Aperçu statistique sur les Névroptères Odonates. Transactions of the Entomological Society of London 19:409-416.
    Tennessen KJ. 1992.
    First records of Gomphaeschna furcillata and Anax longipes in Wisconsin (Odonata: Aeshnidae). The Great Lakes Entomologist 25(4):305-306.
    Tennessen KJ. 2019.
    Dragonfly nymphs of North America: An Identification Guide. Springer International Publishing, Cham, Switzerland: xiv + 620 p.
    Tennessen K, Hudson P. 1997. More records of Gomphaeschna furcillata in the U.P. Williamsonia 1(3):2.
    Walker EM. 1958.
    The Odonata of Canada and Alaska, Vol. 2. University of Toronto Press: Toronto. xi + 318 pp.

Page last edited: May 22, 2016 (EB)