Progomphus Selys 1854 - Sanddragons
Progomphus obscurus (Rambur, 1842) - Common Sanddragon

Notes - References
Back to Gomphidae - Back to Anisoptera - Back to Home Page
Page last updated: 15 July 1998

Notes on Progomphus obscura in Michigan

A large genus of primarily neotropical gomphid dragonflies, one species - Progomphus obscurus - is widely distributed in temperate North America and is found across the LP of Michigan (Map 1).

Map 1: County distribution of Progomphus obscurus in Michigan
Click on map for a larger image

Larvae are widely distributed in streams and lakes of the LP wherever suitable habitat exists. They are distinctive for their long, slender angulate fourth antennal segment as well as the closely appressed position of the middle coxa. These features facilitate larvae to easily burrow into shifting sand substrates of streams and lakes (Needham and Westfall 1955). Huggins and DuBois (1982) studied habitat and dietary preference of P. obscurus larvae in a stream in Kansas. He found larvae significantly correlated to sand and gravel substrates, and did not appear to conflict with another gomphid burrower, Gomphus externus, which largely shared the same prey choice. They describe larval burrowing method, which occured in a random pattern throughout the study site: "Larvae of P. obscurus spread their hind legs downward and outward from their body. This allowed their hind legs to act as braces in the sand and prevented the dragonfly from being swept downstream. They initiated burrowing activity immediately after becoming stable and were able to burrow from sight in two to five seconds. Burrowing was accomplished using the front and middle legs only. This species was never observed to burrow deeper than 2 cm. Most individuals were found from 8-17 mm below the surface... Generally, smaller larvae burrowed less deeply than larger ones." Diet of larvae was predominately made up of collector-gatherer chironomids.

Other links with information on the biology or ecology of larval Progomphus:
Habitat information from survey of Venezuelan NP >>
Brief habitat information from NE North America >>
Brief habitat info from New Jersey, USA >>
Brief habitat info from Houston, Texas, USA >>


Huggins, D. G., and M. B. DuBois. 1982. Factors affecting microdistribution of two species of burrowing dragonfly larvae, with notes on their biology (Anisoptera: Gomphidae). Odonatologica 11(1):1-14.

Needham, J. G. and M. J. Westfall, Jr. 1955. A Manual of the Dragonflies of North America (Anisoptera). University of California Press: Berkeley, California. 615 pp.

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

Selys-Longschamps, E. de. 1854. Synopsis des Gomphines. Bulletin de l'Académie royale des Sciences de Belgique 21(2):23-112(sep. 3-93).

back to top