Two new dragonfly species for QUBS

Swamp Darner
Swamp darner (Epiaeschna heros). Though the thorax is shaded the diagnostic narrow green abdominal markings are clearly visible on this, our largest darner species. Photo: Kurt Hennige.

Although the 2010 dragonfly flight season has not yet begun, we already have two new rare species to add to the station checklist. Digging around in some old documents I turned up one record of a swamp darner (Epiaeschna heros) on July 15, 1975 along Queen’s University Road and one record of a stygian shadowdragon (Neurocordulia yamaskanensis) at Hart Lake on Aug 17, 2004 (Catling et al. 2005). These are to my knowledge the first records of these rare species at QUBS. Both of species were listed as hypothetical (i.e. not yet recorded at QUBS but expected to be found) on the new dragonfly checklist (Smith et al. 2009). The new statuses that will appear in an updated version of the checklist will be Rare for swamp darner and Rare and Local for stygian shadowdragon.

The swamp darner record is an old one and no observer names are given. Catling et al (2005) report that there was a specimen in the QUBS collection, but that specimen appears to have been lost. Queen’s University Road, where the specimen was collected, has proven to be a good location for finding rare dragonflies. Two harlequin darners (Gomphaeschna furcillata) were discovered there in 2009 (MAC) and a Cyrano darner (Nasiaeschna pentacantha) was captured some years ago (Floyd Connor, pers. comm.).

Stygian shadowdragon is a crepuscular species that always seems to be under reported wherever it is found. That being said it appears to be genuinely rare at QUBS. The single record for stygian shadowdragon at QUBS was a single exuvium found by Paul Catling and Brenda Kostiuk. They discovered a single exuvium near a creek that flows into Hart Lake. Apparently this exuvium is now a voucher specimen in the Canadian National Collection (Catling et al. 2005).

Not only are both of these species rare at QUBS, but they are regionally rare too. Kurt Hennige of the Kingston Field Naturalists says that swamp darners are seldom reported in the Kingston region. There have been four records near Outlet (Charleston Lake area). As for stygian shadowdragon, David Bree (Ontario Parks) caught two in June 2008 at Elbow Lake. Apparently this was the first record of this species for the area (Hennige, pers. comm.). The record in Cartling et al (2005) precedes it by four years.

It is exciting to add such uncommon species to the QUBS list. Perhaps more interesting records will turn up as we find the time to sort through old documentation. An updated dragonfly checklist for QUBS will be posted on the website later this spring. – Posted by Mark Andrew Conboy

Catling, P.M., Kostiuk, B. and Connor, F. 2005. Odonata collected in the vicinity of the Queen’s University Biology [sic] Station at Chaffey’s Lock. Ontario Odonata 6. Toronto Entomologists Association.
Smith, B. Muma, K., Conboy, M.A and Connor, Floyd. 2009. Dragonflies of Queen’s University Biological Station.


4 thoughts on “Two new dragonfly species for QUBS”

  1. Mark, can you recommend some resources for identification of odanates? I have in my little stash of field guides Dragonflies through Binoculars, Sidney W. Dunkle, and just picked up Field Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of Algonquin Provincial Park and the Surrounding Area, C. Jones, A. Kingsley, P. Burke and M.Holder authors. “Surrounding area” looks by their little map to come to the south edge of the Canadian Shield, which may include QUBS. Since our property is a few miles from QUBS I’m interested in what species you’re finding for comparison. With this warm weather and the arrival of blackflies, we should start seeing dragonflies any day now.


  2. Rose-Marie,

    I use “Dragonflies through Binoculars” most often, but in some cases the pictures are so small that seeing details is difficult. I also have “Dragonflies and Damselflies of Northeast Ohio”, which covers many of our dragonflies (though certainly not all) and has nice big illustrations. I haven’t looked through “Dragonflies and Damselflies of Algonquin Provincial Park and the Surrounding Area” even though it is supposed to be great. If you cross reference the Ohio and/or the Algonquin book with the QUBS dragonfly checklist ( the KFN’s checklist ( then you should be well on your way to having a pretty comprehensive second option to “Dragonflies through Binoculars”. For damselflies, by far the best field guide is “Damselflies of the Northeast”. It is a perfectly crafted guide.

    I am looking forward to the first Springtime Darners and Common Green Darners.

  3. We have two more swamp darner (Epiaeschna heros) records to add to the files at QUBS. Earlier this spring Ken Kingdon (Kingston Field Naturalists) reported one at the small wooden bridge on the west side of Telephone Bay (on the Old Bedford Road). I checked that location several times over the next few weeks and found a swamp darner there on six occasions. The second sighting was of a nearly dead individual found in the main parking lot at the station proper. Philina English found this one and it will be added to the QUBS insect collection.

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