Nehalennia Selys, 1850 (Coenagrionidae) - Sprites

Notes - Michigan Species List - Key - References
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Page last updated: 11 August 1998

Notes on the Michigan Species of Nehalennia

Two species of this genus of small, slender damselflies have been recorded in Michigan (see maps below). Larvae are usually found in the aquatic vegetation of the still waters of marshes, fens and sphagnum bogs. Walker's (1953) treatment for the two species remains a very recommended work. Larvae of N. irene are found among the macrophytes, sedges, cat-tails and other emergent vegetation in a wide assortment of aquatic habitats, including still areas of streams and rivers, sloughs and ponds, and sometimes bogs. I. gracilis, on the other hand, appears to be restricted to sphagnum bog habitats, with larvae found near and alongside the margins of floating bog mats. Both species may be locally abundant in their particular habitat. Adults emerge from mid-May through July.

Other links with information on the biology or ecology of larval Nehalennia:
Brief habitats notes from the Houston, Texas, USA area >>
Ottawa, Ontario survey, with brief habitat notes >>

Michigan Species List

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

Nehalennia gracilis Morse, 1895 - Sphagnum Sprite
Nehalennia irene
(Hagen, 1861) - Sedge Sprite

Key to Mature Larvae of Michigan Nehalennia
Walker 1953 and Westfall and May 1996)

1a. Caudal gills with numerous small marginal spots (picture); posterolateral surface of head with about a dozen short spines, which are darker at base (picture) - N. irene

1b. Caudal gills unspotted or nearly so (picture); posterolateral surface with 4-6 small colorless spines - N. gracilis

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Hagen, H. A. 1861. Synopsis of the neuroptera of North America, with a list of the South American species. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections 4:1-347.

Morse, A. P. 1895. New North American Odonata. Psyche 7:207-211.

Selys-Longchamps, E. de. 1850. Revue des odonates ou Libellules d'Europe. Mémoires de Société de Science de Liege 6:1-408 (reprint 1-408).

Walker, E. M. 1953. The Odonata of Canada and Alaska, Vol. 1. University of Toronto Press: Toronto, Ontario. 292 pp.

Westfall, M. J., Jr. and M. L. May. 1996. Damselflies of North America. Scientific Publishers: Gainesville, Florida. x + 650 pp.

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