Macromia Rambur, 1842 - River cruisers

Macromia illinoiensis, Alpena Co., 1925

Notes - Michigan Species List - Key - References
Back to Macromiidae - Back to Anisoptera - Back to Home Page
Page last updated: 16 Jan. 2017

Notes on the Michigan Species of Macromia

Three of the 7 species of Macromia found in North America north of Mexico have been collected in Michigan (see maps below). M. illinoiensis is by far the most common species, and is found throughout the state. M. taeniolata is know by adult specimens in the southern LP. In 2014, a single adult specimen of M. alleghaniensis Williamson was taken in Cass Co. (Craves & O'Brien 2015). It has not yet been added to the larval key.

Williams (1978) noted that larvae of M. taeniolata collected from Texas fed chiefly during night, while during the daylight hours lay burrowed in mud or debris substrates. A recent adult specimen from the Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County in the LP appeared to be flying about the shore of the Huron River (Mark O'Brien, pers. comm.). The river there is slow-moving, with fine silt and gravel substrate with the shore with large-rooted willow trees. Walker and Corbet (1975) found larvae of M. illinoiensis in large, somewhat rapid streams as well as moderately wave-swept sections of lakes. I (EB) have found larvae of M. illinoiensis in the UP sprawling in sandy and rocky substrates of clean, well-aerated lakes as well as in similar substrates of slow-moving streams. Larvae from these habitats appear golden brown with a dark, speckled pattern, and when placed on these substrates appear quite cryptic. Huggins (in Huggins and Brigham 1982) found larvae of M. illinoiensis from Kansas also among hanging masses of rootlets and aquatic vegetation. Larvae emerge in June through early July in Michigan.

Needham and Westfall (1955) provided the first comprehensive taxonomic treatment for larvae, but the character used to separate M. illinoiensis from several other species (shape of lateral spine of Ab9) is considered unreliable (Donnelly and Tennessen 1994). Alternative diagnostic characteristics have since been suggested that allow for species differentiation (Huggins and Brigham 1982, Donnelly and Tennessen (1994), upon which the key below is based.

Other papers with information on the biology or ecology of larval Macromia:

Hughes, M.E. & Fincke, O.M. 2012.
Reciprocal Effects between Burying Behavior of a Larval Dragonfly (Odonata: Macromia illinoiensis) and Zebra Mussel Colonization. J. Insect Behav. 25: 554. doi:10.1007/s10905-012-9323-y


back to top
Michigan Species List

Map 1 Map 2
Maps 1-2: County distribution of the Michigan species of
Click on map for a larger image

Macromia illinoiensis Walsh, 1862 - Illinois River Cruiser - Map 1
Macromia taeniolata Rambur, 1842 - Royal River Cruiser - Map 2

Key to the Mature Nymphs of Michigan Macromia
Based on
Huggins and Brigham 1982 and Donnelly and Tennessen (1994)

1a. Mature larvae large, total length > 33 mm; mid-dorsal abdominal hook on 6 stout, its width-to-height ratio greater than 0.80 (picture); height of mid-dorsal hook on Ab2 usually shorter (< 0.85x) than that on Ab3 (figure); frontal horn blunt (figure) - M. taeniolata

Macromia taeniolata exuvia, Raisin River, Washtenaw Co., MI 2014

1b. Mature larvae smaller than above, total length < 30 mm; mid-dorsal abdominal hook on 6 more slender than above, its width-to-height ratio less than 0.65 (0.62-0.64) (picture); height of mid-dorsal hook on Ab2 nearly (> 0.9x) as high as that on Ab3 (picture); frontal horn sharp (figure) - M. illinoiensis

back to top


Craves, J.A. and D.S. O'Brien 2015. Macromia alleghaniensis (Odonata: Macromiidae): New for Michigan, with clarifications of northern records. Great Lakes Entomologist 48:186-191.

Donnelly, T. W., and K. J. Tennessen. 1994. Macromia illinoiensis and georgina: a study of their variation and apparent subspecific relationship (Odonata: Corduliidae). Bulletin of American Odonatology 2(3):27-61.

Huggins, D. G. and W. U. Brigham. 1982. Odonata, pp. 4.1-4.100 in Aquatic Insects and Oligochaetes of North and South Carolina. Brigham, A. R., W. U. Brigham and A. Gnilka, eds. Midwest Aquatic Enterprises: Mahomet, Illinois.

Rambur, J. P. 1842. Histoire naturelle des insectes neuroptères. Libraire Encyclopédique de Roret, Paris. 534 pp.

Walsh, B. D. 1862. List of the Pseudoneuroptera of Illinois contained in the cabinet of the writer, with descriptions of over forty new species, with notes on their structural affinities. Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences Philadelphia 14:361-402.

Williams, C. E. 1978. Notes on the behavior of the late instar nymphs of fourMacromia species under natural and laboratory conditions (Anisoptera: Macromiidae). Notulae Odonatologicae1(2):27-28.

back to top