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Slender Baskettail



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Epitheca costalis

Selys, 1871


Order Odonata
Suborder Anisoptera
Superfamily Libelluloidea
Family Corduliidae
Genus Epitheca
Species costalis (Selys, 1871) [Cordulia]


Identification

This is a typical baskettail with a hairy thorax and a spot of yellow on the side. The wings are marked with a basal spot of brown or in some females there may be a brown stripe across the front edge of the wings. The males have a slender abdomen and long cerci (greater than 3.4 mm). These appendage s are similar to the Common Baskettail (Epitheca cynosura), but lack a ventral keel. The abdomen of the male is often strongly constricted behind segment 3. The abdomen has a lateral yellow stripe. The female caudal appendages are long, as long as segments 9 and 10 together.

Size

Total length: 42-45 mm; abdomen: 28-32 mm; hindwing: 25-28 mm.

Similar Species

It is generally difficult to reliably identify males except where they occur only with Common Baskettail (E. cynosura), which has a much stouter abdomen. Dot-winged Baskettail (E. petechialis ) is sometimes considered a form of Stripe-winged Baskettail. There are slight differences in the cerci of these two species, but some Dot-winged Baskettails have clear wings and this character alone cannot reliably distinguish between the two species. Sundragons (Helocordulia ) have an orange ring encircling segment 3. Shadowdragons (Neurocordulia ) lack a yellow spot or stripe laterally on the thorax.

Habitat

Lakes, ponds and slow reaches of streams and rivers.

Discussion

Little has been published on the behavior of this species, but it seems to be similar to other better known baskettails. It may be seen in feeding swarms or perching on twigs and bushes in large numbers. Males patrol along shorelines for long distances. Mating pairs perch on stems at the waters edge. Larvae of this species and Common Baskettail have been found emerging on pine trees at unusually long distances and heights from the water. Exuviae were found 10.5 m from the water and at maximum heights of 5.5 m.

Distribution

Eastern U.S. and southern Great Plains.