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The goal of this page is to provide links to some of the better odonata web sites on the internet, and to show photographs of some of the more common species in Eastern Canada. As they turn up, I may also show photos of some of those that are less common in this area. The photos I have posted are largely here to demonstrate the diversity, in terms of both appearance and taxonomy, of the dragonflies and damselflies of Eastern Canada:


Lestes forcipatus
(Sweetflag Spreadwing)

The Sweetflag Spreadwing is a regular inhabitant of the dry ends of marshy areas. Many of the Lestes species (Spreadwings) have striking colour combinations, like the yellow, green, and bronze pattern of this female, which was in a semi-permanent wetland area in the west end of Ottawa, Ontario.

Lestes congener
(Spotted Spreadwing)

This photograph of a male Spotted Spreadwing was taken near Frog Pond, to the West of Halifax, NS. It provides an illustration of the reason for the name of this genus of damselflies, the Spreadwings, which often land with their wings spread apart. The Spotted Spreadwing is a difficult-to-find species, although it is found throughout Eastern Canada.

Lestes unguiculatus
(Lyre-tipped Spreadwing)

This species, easily identified in the hand by its distinctive, S-shaped lower abdominal claspers, is a common insect in grassy wetlands. In fact, on the evening when this male was photographed, several hundred were probably present in the area around the Richmond (Ontario) sewage lagoons, to the south-west of Ottawa.

Enallagma hageni
(Hagen's Bluet)

The bluets are a group of small, typically bluish damselflies (although some species may have shades of violet, yellow, green, orange or even red!). Different Bluet species prefer slightly different habitats, and the long grass next to a still pond was ideal for this male Hagen's Bluet, a fairly common species which has a pattern essentially identical to E. ebrium, the Marsh Bluet (also a common species). They are easily separated, though, by their abdominal claspers.

Enallagma aspersum
(Azure Bluet)

Azure Bluet occurs along rocky shores of small lakes and ponds in the maritimes. They have a very dark abdomen for the most part, although the thorax and the tip of the abdomen are a striking shade of medium blue. This male was photographed along the Chain Lakes, to the West of Halifax.

Aeshna interrupta
(Variable Darner)

I took this photograph of a female at Hartlen Pt., near Dartmouth, NS. It is one of the commoner Aeshna Darners found in the bogs of Nova Scotia. The males are more stikingly patterned, with bright green and blue markings.

Aeshna umbrosa
(Shadow Darner)

This is a photograph of a male of this species, which prefers to stay around the shadowy edges of ponds and ditches. This picture was taken at Frog Pond, West of Halifax, NS.

Basiaeschna janata
(Springtime Darner)

This is an early-emerging darner which can be found around still or slow-moving waters in the month of June in most of Eastern Canada. This male was photographed just west of Halifax, NS.

Anax junius
(Common Green Darner)

This is a common species in much of Eastern Canada. Interestingly, most places where it is present have two populations: one resident and one migratory. I took this photo at the same location as the photograph of B. janata.

Gomphaeschna furcillata
(Harlequin Darner)

This photograph was the first evidence of this sphagnum bog species in Halifax County. They are pictures of a male, which was the first individual of this species I saw. I found it in Dartmouth, NS in June 2001, and have not found another since.

Hagenius brevistylus

This is a scan of the exuvia (nymph case) of a Dragonhunter. The largest of the Canadian gomphids (clubtails), and probably one of the most impressive of our dragonflies, the exuvia (the skin of the nymph, discarded when the adult emerges) are easy to identify because of the distinctive round abdomen. I hope to have a picture of an adult posted soon, as it is equally impressive, and even more beautiful.

Dromogomphus spinosus
(Black-shouldered Spinyleg)

The only spinyleg in Eastern Canada, the Black-shouldered Spinyleg is a beautiful, mid-sized clubtail often found in open areas near fairly rapid water. This lovely female was photographed by my mother, while it was resting on the edge of a field near Almonte, Ontario.

Gomphus exilis
(Lancet Clubtail)

This clubtail is a fairly common species around still waters in Eastern Canada, while most of the clubtails prefer fast-moving rivers. I photographed this male on the same day as the Harlequin Darner above, and in the same location.

Epitheca cynosura (Common Baskettail)

This is one of the earliest-emerging dragonflies in our region. It emerges from early May (in the Ottawa area) to late May or early June (Nova Scotia). This female was one of the first dragonflies I saw in 2001, and was just West of Halifax.

Somatochlora williamsoni (Williamson's Emerald)

Although the Emeralds require permanent water (usually bogs) in which to lay their eggs, they prefer hot, dry areas to do their hunting. They consume medium-sized prey items, and those pesky deerflies seem to be one of their favourites. This beautiful male Williamson's Emerald was near a cedar swamp in Ottawa, Ontario.

Somatochlora cingulata
(Lake Emerald)

These beautiful Emeralds are most easy to find in the dry, open areas near boggy lakes or ponds. They are locally common, and there were several in the area near Spryfield, NS, where I photographed this female.

Libellula exusta
(White Corporal)

This is a small but attractive skimmer which frequents hot, dry areas as most of the rest of this family does. The White corporal is found throughout the maritime provinces. This male was along a set of railroad tracks to the West of Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Libellula julia
(Chalk-fronted Corporal)

Sexual dimorphism is the term used to describe a species in which the male and female have a different physical appearance. This pair of Chalk-fronted Corporals illustrates this phenomenon very well. While the male (top) clearly shows the pattern for which the species was named, the female (below him)is much plainer, essentially showing only shades of brown. Sexual dimorphism is very common in the odonates. I took these photographs in Dartmouth, NS.

Libellula incesta
(Slaty Skimmer)

This species is only found locally in Canada outside of Southern Ontario. This photograph and a specimen of a female collected just outside of Halifax were the first evidence of this species for Halifax County.

Libellula quadrimaculata
(Four-spotted Skimmer)

The Four-spotted Skimmer is one of the first dragonlies that most people will see in the spring. They are very common around ponds and marshes from mid-May (in Ontario -- early June in Nova Scotia) through to July or August. This male was along the edge of a marshy pond just West of Halifax, NS.

Sympetrum vicinum
(Yellow-legged Meadowhawk)

Yellow-legged Meadowhawks are a common representative of the Meadowhawks (Genus Sympetrum) in our area, and are most easily separated from the other members of this genus by their yellowish legs. They emerge in late June or early July, and are often one of the last dragonflies seen in the fall, as they may survive a couple of light frosts and live well into October. I photographed this male to the West of Halifax, NS.

Sympetrum internum
(Cherry-faced Meadowhawk)

Distinguished from White-faced Meadowhawk (S. obtrusum) by its dark face, and from the other Meadowhawks on this page by its dark legs and clear wings, the Cherry-faced Meadowhawk is actually most similar to S. rubicundulum, the Ruby Meadowhawk. A close examination of the abdominal claspers and genitals is often required to differentiate between the two. This male was in Richmond, Ontario.

Sympetrum semicinctum
(Band-winged Meadowhawk)

This attractive species is found from Eastern Ontario through the Maritime provinces, generally near marshy habitats. This male was along some marshy-bordered railraod tracks in Halifax, NS.

Sympetrum obtrusum
(White-faced Meadowhawk)

Easily identified by its (usually) bright white face, the White-faced Meadowhawk is one of the commonest dragonflies in Eastern Canada. Found in a variety of habitats, from the edges of wetlands to open fields, and even sometimes in the woods, it hunts for small insects from a perch, such as a twig or a blade of grass. This male was hunting along a roadside near Dunrobin, Ontario.

Sympetrum costiferum
(Saffron-winged Meadowhawk)

This is an uncommon species throughout the southern parts of Eastern Canada. Often appearing fairly large, they prefer hot, dry areas near still water. This male was along some railway tracks to the West of Halifax, NS.


University of Puget Sound
Dragonfly Site
International Odonata Research
Institute (IORI)
Digital Dragonflies
Odonata of New Brunswick (lost?)
maintained by
Stuart Tingley.
The Odonata of
New Jersey
Roy Beckemeyer's
Odonata Site
Odonata of the United
States (USGS)

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