Eastern pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis)

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Eastern pondhawk chasing a red milkweed beetle
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Eastern pondhawk fact file

Eastern pondhawk description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumArthropoda
ClassInsecta
OrderOdonata
FamilyLibellulidae
GenusErythemis (1)

The eastern pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis) is a stunning dragonfly that displays extreme sexual dimorphism. The vividly coloured female has a metallic green head and thorax, a white or green, black-banded abdomen and olive-brown to yellowish-green eyes, while the somewhat duller male is power blue with a green head and blue-green eyes. Immature eastern pondhawks resemble the female, but immature males slowly change to blue within the first month of emerging from the water (3).

Like other dragonflies, the eastern pondhawk has two pairs of heavily-veined wings, with the front pair shorter and narrower than the rear pair. The abdomen is long and slender and divided into several segments. The adult eastern pondhawk has powerful biting mouthparts and large compound eyes that can detect the fast movements of its insect prey (4).

Also known as
eastern pond hawk, eastern pond-hawk, greenjacket.
Size
Length: 3.8 - 4.4 cm (2)
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Eastern pondhawk biology

A voracious predator and expert hunter, the eastern pondhawk eats insects such as dragonflies, damselflies, grasshoppers and butterflies, often taking prey as large as, or even larger than, itself. It catches its prey in the air and often follows large mammals walking in long grass so that it can capture insects disturbed by them. While resting, the eastern pondhawk perches on low vegetation, on the ground or on floating debris (4) (5) (6).

At the start of the breeding season, male eastern pondhawks compete to establish territories, which females visit to mate and lay eggs. After being grasped by the male on the back of the head, the female initiates mating by raising the abdomen, forming a mating ‘wheel’. The female lays up to 900 eggs under the water, all the time guarded by the male. The eggs are usually laid amongst vegetation, which protects them against predation from water bugs, water beetles, dragonfly larvae and fish (3) (7). The resulting larvae remain under water until ready to emerge and transform into adults (4).

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Eastern pondhawk range

The eastern pondhawk is found across much of the USA and Central America, as well as parts of the Caribbean (1).

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Eastern pondhawk habitat

The eastern pondhawk inhabits a range of environments around or near to water, including lakes, marshes, canals, forests and shrublands (1).

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Eastern pondhawk status

The eastern pondhawk is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Least Concern

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Eastern pondhawk threats

There are currently no known threats to the eastern pondhawk, and the global population is thought to be increasing (1).

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Eastern pondhawk conservation

While there are no known conservation efforts targeting the eastern pondhawk, it is found in many protected areas (1).

ARKive is supported by OTEP, a joint programme of funding from the UK FCO and DFID which provides support to address priority environmental issues in the Overseas Territories, and Defra
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Find out more

More information about conservation in the Americas:

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

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Glossary

Abdomen
In arthropods (crustaceans, insects and arachnids) the abdomen is the hind region of the body, which is usually segmented to a degree (but not visibly in most spiders).
Larvae
Stage in an animal’s lifecycle after it hatches from the egg. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce.
Sexual dimorphism
When males and females of the same species differ in appearance.
Territory
An area occupied and defended by an animal, a pair of animals or a colony.
Thorax
Part of the body located near the head in animals. In insects, the three segments between the head and the abdomen, each of which has a pair of legs.
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References

  1. IUCN Red List (February, 2011)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org/
  2. Needham, J.G. (1954) A Manual of the Dragonflies of North America. University of California Press, California, USA.
  3. Paulson, D.R. (2009) Dragonflies and Damselflies of the West. Princeton University Press, Princeton, USA.
  4. O’Toole, C. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Insects and their Allies. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.
  5. BugGuide - Eastern pondhawk (October, 2010)
    http://bugguide.net/node/view/577
  6. Taber, S.W. and Fleenor, S.B. (2003) Insects of the Texas Lost Pines. Texas A&M University Press, Texas, USA.
  7. Berger, C. and Hansen, A. (2004) Dragonflies. Stackpole Books, Pennsylvania, USA.
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Image credit

Eastern pondhawk chasing a red milkweed beetle  
Eastern pondhawk chasing a red milkweed beetle

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