Friday, July 4, 2014

Delta-spotted Spiketail (Cordulegaster diastatops)

Spiketails are particular about their habitat requirements, making them elusive and uncommon, and it's always a treat to stumble across one of these eye-catching dragonflies. It's unfortunate that this Delta-spotted Spiketail was unable to elude a vehicle.

At about 60 mm in length the Delta-spotted Spiketail is a large dragonfly, and although the tip of the abdomen with its characteristic ovipositor – the "spike" – is missing there are no secondary genitalia so we know this is a female.

Basing a dragonfly's distribution on roadkill is chancy as the insect could have been transported from a thousand kilometers away, but this one is fresh, pliable and still has its striking black and yellow colors (odonates tend to fade rather quickly after death). Delta-spotted Spiketails breed in beaver meadows so there's plenty of perfectly good habitat available in the area and no reason to suspect it isn't indigenous to south-central Hastings County.

Too bad my first encounter was with a dead dragonfly but accidents happen. An adult insect is near the end of its life cycle in any event so hopefully she's already mated and oviposited, producing a brood to carry on the species for the future.