Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada

Species Epitheca cynosura - Common Baskettail

first dragonfly of the season - Epitheca cynosura first dragonfly of the season - Epitheca cynosura Common Baskettail - Epitheca cynosura Common Baskettail - Epitheca cynosura - male Common Baskettail - Epitheca cynosura - male Baskkettail Dragonfly - Epitheca cynosura Common baskettail - Epitheca cynosura - female Common Baskettail (Epitheca cynosura) - Epitheca cynosura - male
Classification
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Odonata (Dragonflies and Damselflies)
Suborder Anisoptera (Dragonflies)
Family Corduliidae (Emeralds)
Genus Epitheca (Baskettails)
Species cynosura (Common Baskettail)
Explanation of Names
The specific name cynosura is a Greek name for the Pole Star, more frequently called Polaris. "Cynosura" means "tail of the dog". More broadly, "cynosure" means "omething that strongly attracts attention or guides." Perhaps something on this dragonfly resembles a dog's tail. (Based on Internet searches.)
Size
36-44 mm
Identification
Identification of this species, is tricky. Some individuals have large basal spot on hindwings, like Mantled Baskettail, E. semiaquea, but spot does not extend to hindwing. Clear-winged form of Common Baskettail may be indistinguishable in the field from E. costalis and E. spinigera, etc.
Range
Eastern North America.
Habitat
Lakes, ponds, marshes, and slow-moving rivers.
Season
One of the first dragonflies of spring. May fly as early as January in southeastern states. Flight extends to August, but most are about in spring, flight usually lasting about five weeks. May to August in Canada. Additional fall flight in Florida.
Food
Predatory on other insects. May feed in swarms on such prey as winged termites.
Life Cycle
Males patrol a patch of shoreline, about 3-10 meters long. Peak patrolling is in late afternoon.
See Also
Other Baskettails, Marl Pennant.
Print References
Dunkle, p. 142, plate 23, has extensive discussion of identification difficulties. (1)
Dunkle, pp. 63-64, fig. 53, also discusses id. issues. (2)
Nikula, p. 111. (3)
Internet References
RLE Photo--good selection of photos
Works Cited
1.Dragonflies Through Binoculars: A Field Guide to Dragonflies of North America
Sidney W. Dunkle. 2000. Oxford Press.
2.Dragonflies of the Florida Peninsula, Bermuda, and the Bahamas
Sidney W. Dunkle. 1989. Scientific Publishers.
3.Stokes Beginner's Guide to Dragonflies
Donald and Lillian Stokes. 2002. Little, Brown and Company.