Ottawa Field-Naturalists' Club
A Checklist of the Dragonflies and Damselflies of Ottawa-Gatineau

(2008 update)

Bob Bracken and Christina Lewis

Note: This updated checklist appeared in the summer issue of Trail & Landscape. A PDF version of the article is also available for those of you who would like to print a copy.

In 1998 we produced a checklist of the dragonflies and damselflies for the Ottawa–Hull (now Ottawa–Gatineau) district (Bracken and Lewis 1998) including notes on occurrence, habitat types, environmental conditions and local status. Ten years have passed since this list was compiled and there have been a number of changes to names (both common and scientific) as well as three additions and two deletions to the list of species. Additionally, we have gained a better understanding of local status and distribution, and have amended and updated the flight seasons and status codes to more accurately reflect the relative abundance of species. More references for the amateur naturalist have also been published, including field guides that are relevant to our area, and we now provide an updated list of these as well.

INTRODUCTION

In our presentation we hope to provide a modern checklist which includes current nomenclature as well as notes on the environments where these ancient, beautiful and fascinating insects may be found.

Within the Ottawa-Gatineau area, 120 species are now known to have occurred, and an additional 6 taxa are known within 25 km of the 50-km radius of the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill. This represents one of the highest diversities of Odonata in North America for such a small geographic region. An amazing example is the Britannia Conservation Area in Ottawa, approximately 1 km2 in area, where 57 species have now been recorded—more than the fauna of the entire British Isles (Bracken and Lewis 2004)!

Standardized English common and scientific names are from The Odonata of North America produced by the Dragonfly Society of the Americas (DSA) (September 2004), with updates in 2006. The family order follows the standard as it is currently accepted. Species scientific names are, for convenience, listed alphabetically.

Status information is given for adult insects only, and is based on personal communications with local authorities as well as our own observations over the past 10 seasons. Where we found gaps in local information, we consulted E. M. Walker (The Odonata of Canada and Alaska) and other references. A list of references used for this article, as well as recommended publications and acknowledgements, appears at the end of the checklist.

It is interesting to consider the coarse geology of the Ottawa-Gatineau region. The Québec half of the district is primarily Precambrian, metavolcanic (mineral soil) with only a thin margin of Ordovician as well as the Champlain Sea influence along the northern boundary of the Ottawa River. The Ontario side is almost exclusively Ordovician (dolomitic) limestone, with a much more extensive influence of the late Quaternary Period (Champlain Sea depositions). We hope that these basic geologic factors are reflected within the body of the species ecotone notes, as well as in the columns for presence within Québec and Ontario.

CHANGES/UPDATES TO THE LIST OF SPECIES

Additions

Northern Bluet (Enallagma annexum – formerly E. cyathigerum) and Vernal Bluet (E. vernale) – their status and pattern of occurrence were poor ly known in 1997. Split just a few years ago, it now appears that they are both widely distributed regionally, the former common in sandpits and sewage lagoons of the Quaternary "flat country" and the latter frequent in wetlands of "shield country."

Rapids Clubtail (Gomphus quadricolor) – first recorded in our district in June 2002 on the Mississippi River in Pakenham, ON (Catling 2002).

Black Saddlebags (Tramea lacerata) – A long distance migrant first recorded in our district in 2001 and again the following year. These records were a surprise as this species had not previously been recorded in eastern Ontario away from the Great Lakes (Bracken and Lewis 2002).

Deletions

Unicorn Clubtail (Arigomphus villosipes) – This was included based on a reported specimen that has not been made available for confirmation. Within Ontario this species is known to occur only as far north as Durham and York counties (Rothfels 2003), therefore it has been dropped from our list.

Jane’s Meadowhawk (Sympetrum janae) – After much study this newly described species (Carle, 1993) has been dismissed by the DSA and is thought to be an intergrade in the Cherry-faced Meadowhawk (S. internum) and Ruby Meadowhawk (S. rubicundulum) species complex.

Changes to common names

Northern Spreadwing (Lestes disjunctus) – Changed from Common Spreadwing. Two subspecies have recently been split according to morphological differences and range of occurrence.

Vernal Bluet (Enallagma vernale) – Changed from Gloyd’s Bluet. At the time of our original list this taxon did not have a common name, therefore we "coined" one that we considered appropriate.

Violet Dancer (Argia fumipennis violacaea) – Changed from Variable Dancer.

Three subspecies have been given their own vernaculars. Eastern Least Clubtail (Stylogomphus albistylus) – Changed from Least Clubtail. This vernacular was modified following the naming of a new species from the interior.

Common Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis) – Changed from Eastern Pondhawk. Two taxa (eastern and western) are now considered conspecific.

Belted Whiteface (Leucorrhinia proxima) – Changed from Red-waisted Whiteface. The new name reflects differences in the appearance of two populations (eastern and western) and is more appropriate.

Chalk-fronted Corporal (Ladona julia) – Changed from Chalk-fronted Skimmer. This taxon is better treated within the genus of "smaller" Skimmers known as the "Corporals."

Autumn Meadowhawk (Sympetrum vicinum) – Changed from Yellow-legged Meadowhawk. The legs of this species darken with age. Also, it is the latest-flying of the Meadowhawks.

Changes to scientific names

Northern Bluet (Enallagma annexum) – Changed from E. cyathigerum, as it has just recently been separated from that species, its European cousin.

Spiketail family (Cordulegastridae) – At the time of our original list, it was thought that the three species of Spiketails merited separate generic designation. Here we use the one genus Cordulegaster for the family, as the previously used genera Taeniogaster and Zoraena are no longer being used.

Chalk-fronted Corporal (Ladona julia) – previously placed in the genus Libellula, recent DNA studies have shown that this taxon is best treated in the distinct genus Ladona (Artiss 1999, in Catling 2000).

Common Whitetail (Plathemis lydia) – as with L. julia (above), it is thought that this taxon deserves its own genus, based on recent DNA studies.

SPECIES KNOWN FROM ADJACENT REGIONS

(within 25 km of the 50 km radius of the Ottawa-Gatineau District)

Subarctic Bluet (Coenagrion interrogatum) – Danford Lake fen, Québec
Zigzag Darner (Aeshna sitchensis) – Danford Lake fen, Québec
Subarctic Darner (Aeshna subarctica) – Danford Lake fen, Québec
Brook Snaketail (Ophiogomphus aspersus) – Petite Nation River, Québec
Incurvate Emerald (Somatochlora incurvata) – Danford Lake fen, Québec
Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis) – Burritt’s Rapids, Ontario

HABITAT AND STATUS CODES IN THE CHECKLIST

Habitat (ecotone) notes are derived from combinations of the following descriptions and their codes. Only the two most appropriate descriptions are tabled for each column, except for status. Flight periods and codes for status are included based on our most recent observations of adult insects in our district.

WB = water body type

Ll - large lakes (e.g. Lac Lapêche, QC)
La - lakes, moderate to small in size (e.g. Ramsay Lake, QC)
Lr - large rivers (e.g. Ottawa River)
Ri - rivers, moderate to small in size (e.g. tributaries of the Ottawa River)
Pd - ponds, permanent or semipermanent, large or small and shallow (e.g. "Mud Lake" in Britannia)
Sm - natural streams, small water courses, moderate (1-3 m in width) or small creek (1 m or less in depth)

WT = wetland type

Ma - marsh; shallow water, typically with robust emergent and aquatic vegetation
Sw - swamp; areas of standing water, wet woods with standing trees and shrubs
Fe - fen; wetland of standing water with Eastern Tamarack (Larix laricina), narrow-leaved emergents and sphagnum spp., neutral to alkaline water
Bo - bog; northern wetland typically with Black Spruce (Picea mariana), low shrubs (ericaceous),and sphagnum spp., acidic water

WC = water conditions

St - quiet waters, stagnant or still inshore areas
Sl - slow waters, little to gentle current with minimal grade
Fs - fast waters, moderate to strong current with grade
Ra - rapids or cataracts, steep grades over bedrock or rocky substrate

SH = specific habitat descriptions within water body or wetland type, or unique habitats

Ip - instream pools, slow or fast waters
Po - pools of standing water in sphagnum depressions of fens or bogs
Ro - rocky conditions, instream and on shore
Be - beach zone along shore, sand, gravel or cobble
Sa - sand or borrow pits, excavations in Champlain Sea deposits
Tl - sewage treatment lagoons

EC = environmental conditions within water body or wetland type, or unique habitats

Sh - shaded environments, woodland edges, forest streams, or in evening
Cw - cold water source, underground streams or springs with emergent vegetation
Se - seepage areas, underground source
Or - organic substrate, decayed or decaying vegetation, byproducts, etc.
Ms - mineral substrate, sand deposition or igneous bedrock, acidic
Ca - clay soils or calcareous deposition (e.g. limestone), alkaline
Wa - wave-beaten shores, shallow waters of larger lakes and rivers lacking wetland vegetation

Flight period

Earliest and latest dates are excluded, to portray the main flight period of each species within the Ottawa-Gatineau District.
e - early in the month (~ first 10 days)
m - middle of the month (~ 11th – 20th days)
l - later in the month (~ 21st – 31st days)

Status within the district

C - common, easily found, widespread or abundant within appropriate habitat
U - uncommon, readily found in suitable habitat; most species require effort
S - scarce, not easily found, special effort required
R - rare, specific locations only, not likely to be encountered
VR - very rare, one or two records only or rare immigrant

Additional notes on local status

W - widespread, often encountered outside of appropriate habitat
L - local, closely associated with environmental and/or habitat requirements
I - immigrant, a species that moves into our area from the south
. - historical record, unknown for 50 years

REFERENCES

  • Bracken, B. and C. Lewis. 1998. A Checklist of the Dragonflies and Damselflies of Ottawa-Hull. T&L 32(3):126-136.
  • Bracken, B. and C. Lewis. 2002. Black Saddlebags (Tramea lacerata) – first records for Ottawa-Carleton and Prescott-Russell Counties and possible range expansion. In P.M. Catling, C.D. Jones and P. Pratt, eds. Ontario Odonata Vol. 3. pp. 16-18 Toronto Entomologists Association, Toronto, Canada.
  • Bracken, B. and C. Lewis. 2004. First records and emergence of Variegated Meadowhawk (Sympetrum corruptum) in Prescott-Russell County. In P.M. Catling, C.D. Jones and P. Pratt, eds. Ontario Odonata Vol. 4. pp. 1-3, Toronto Entomologists Association, Toronto, Canada.
  • Bracken, B. and C. Lewis. 2004. Odonata of the Britannia Conservation Area (Ottawa-Carleton County), Ontario. In P.M. Catling, C.D. Jones and P. Pratt, eds. Ontario Odonata, Vol. 5. pp. 15-22, Toronto Entomologists Association, Toronto, Canada.
  • Bracken, B. and C. Lewis. 2005. Additions to the Odonata study area of the Britannia Conservation Area, Ottawa, ON. In P.M. Catling, C.D. Jones and P. Pratt, eds. Ontario Odonata, Vol. 6. pp. 14-15, Toronto Entomologists Association, Toronto, Canada.
  • Carle, F.L. 1993. Sympetrum janae spec. nov. from eastern North America, with a key to nearctic Sympeturm (Anisoptera: Libellulidae). Odonatalogica 22(1):1-16.
  • Catling, P.M. and V.R. Brownell. 2000. Damselflies and Dragonflies (Odonata) of Ontario: Resource Guide and Annotated List. Toronto Entomologists Association, Toronto, Canada.
  • Catling, P.M. and V.R. Brownell. 2002. Rapids Clubtail (Gomphus quadricolor) in Eastern Ontario. In P.M. Catling, C.D. Jones and P. Pratt, eds. Ontario Odonata, Vol. 3. pp. 1-4, Toronto Entomologists Association, Toronto, Canada.
  • Dragonfly Society of the Americas – ARGIA, The News Journal of the DSA:
    Donelly, N. 2001. Taxonomic problems with North American Species—a last appeal for information. Argia 13(2):5.
    Donelly, N. 2003. Common name for Enallagma vernale. Argia 15(3):17.
    Paulson, D.R. 2004. New common names for some North American Odonata. Argia 16(3):29-30.
    Paulson, D.R. 2007. New Checklist Committee for the DSA. Argia 18(4):6-7.
  • Dunkle, S.W. and D.R. Paulson. 1997. List of the Odonata of North America (updated September 2004). University of Puget Sound, OR, USA.
  • Hutchinson, R. and B. Ménard. 2007. First Observations on larvae of Epiaeschna heros (Odonata: Aeshnidae) in Québec, Canada. In P.M. Cat ling, C.D. Jones and P. Pratt, eds. Ontario Odonata Vol. 7. pp. 1-7, Toronto Entomologists Association, Toronto, Canada.
  • Ménard, B. 1996. Listes Annotées des Odonates de la Vallée de l’Outaouais. Fabreries, 21(2):29-61 A.E.A.Q. c/o Insectarium de Montréal, Montréal, Canada
  • Needham, J.G., M.J. Westfall Jr. and M.L. May. 2000. Dragonflies of North America. Scientific Publishers, Gainesville, FL, USA.
  • Rothfels, C.J. 2003. Unicorn Clubtail (Arigomphus villosipes: Gomphidae): New records and summary of status in Ontario. In P.M. Catling, C.D. Jones, and P. Pratt, eds., Ontario Odanata Vol. 5. pp. 5-11 Toronto Entomologists Association, Toronto, Canada.
  • Walker, E.M. 1912. Dragonflies of the Ottawa District. The Ottawa Naturalist. 22:16-24 and 49-63. The Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club, Ottawa, Canada.
  • Walker, E.M. 1953. The Odonata of Canada and Alaska, Volume I. General and Zygoptera. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Canada.
  • Walker, E.M. 1958. The Odonata of Canada and Alaska, Volume II. Anisoptera – Four Families. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Canada.
  • Walker, E.M. and P.S. Corbet. 1973. The Odonata of Canada and Alaska, Volume III. Anisoptera – Three Families. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Canada.
  • Westfall, M.J. Jr. and M.L. May. 1996 (revised 2005). Damselflies of North America. Scientific Publishers, Gainesville, FL, USA.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Dr. Paul M. Catling, Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, for contributions to this article, and for continuing support and invaluable assistance over the past 10 years

Raymond Hutchinson and Benoit Ménard, for assistance with our original manuscript, 1998

Dave Moore, for original layout of our 1998 checklist

RECOMMENDED READING

Field guides

  • Dunkle, S.W. 2000. Dragonflies through Binoculars. Oxford University Press. New York, NY, USA. ISBN 0-19-511268-7.
  • Holder, M., P. Burke and A. Kingsley. 1996. The Dragonflies and Damselflies of Algonquin Provincial Park. Algonquin Park Technical Bulletin No. 11. The Friends of Algonquin Park, Whitney ON, Canada.
  • Lam, E. 2004. Damselflies of the Northeast. Biodiversity Books, Forest Hills, NY, USA. ISBN 0-9754015-0-5.
  • Roche, L. 2002. Dragonflies and Damselfl ies of Northeast Ohio. Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Cleveland, OH, USA. ISBN 0-9717460-0-1.

Ottawa and Ontario

  • Bracken, B. and C. Lewis. 1998. A Checklist of the Dragonflies and Damselflies of Ottawa-Hull. T&L 32(3):126-136.
  • Bracken, B. and C. Lewis. 2008. A Checklist of the Dragonflies and Damselflies of Ottawa-Gatineau. T&L 42(3):115-131.
  • Catling, P.M. and V.R. Brownell. 2000. Damselflies and Dragonflies (Odonata) of Ontario: Resource Guide and Annotated List. Toronto Entomologists Association, Toronto, Canada. ISBN 0-9682013-1-8.
  • Catling, P.M., C.D. Jones and P. Pratt, eds. 2000-2006. Ontario Odonata. Vols 1-7. Toronto Entomologists Association, Toronto, Canada. Available from www.ontarioinsects.org.

Scientific publications

  • Needham, J. G., M. J. Westfall, and M. L. May. 2000. Dragonflies of North America. Scientific Publishers, Gainesville, FL, USA. ISBN 0-945417-94-2.
  • Walker, E. M. 1953. The Odonata of Canada and Alaska, Volume I. General and Zygoptera. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Canada.
  • Walker, E. M. 1958. The Odonata of Canada and Alaska, Volume II. Anisoptera - Four Families. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Canada.
  • Walker, E. M. and P. S. Corbet. 1973. The Odonata of Canada and Alaska, Volume III. Anisoptera - Three Families. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Canada.
  • (The above three volumes by Walker et al. were recently re-printed and are available from the Toronto Entomologists Association www.ontarioinsects.org).

  • Westfall, M. J. and M.L. May. 1996. (revised 2005) Damselflies of North America. Scientific Publishers, Gainesville, FL, USA. ISBN 0-945417-93-4.

Internet sites (and links to other odonata web sites)



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