Celithemis amanda

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Geographic Range

Celithemis amanda, a dragonfly species commonly called Amanda's pennant, is native to the Nearctic region. It is found in the southeastern United States, with its range extending along the coastline as far west as Texas, south to Florida, and north to North Carolina. (Needham, et al., 2000; Paulson, 2011)

Habitat

Nymphs are aquatic and live in weed beds of shallow ponds and shoals. Adults are terrestrial and are usually found in riparian habitats near the bodies of water from which they emerged. Celithemis amanda tends to prefer heavily vegetated areas with tall grass. Adults are often found perching on vertical stalks, females are often found far from water, while males are usually found closer. They may also be found in agricultural fields and prairie or meadow ecosystems, with a water source nearby. (Neal and Whitcomb, 1972; Needham, et al., 2000; Paulson, 2011)

  • Aquatic Biomes
  • lakes and ponds

Physical Description

Celithemis amanda is considered a smaller dragonfly species. Adults are 27 to 31 mm in length, with the abdomen taking up the bulk of their length at 18 to 22 mm. Their wingspan is about 46 to 52 mm. The thorax and abdomen are both slender. The head and pterothorax are pale and the face and labium are yellow. The labium has a median black stripe that edges the lateral lobes and the occiput of the head is brown. The pterothorax is brown, with a broad black middorsal stripe. Otherwise, males and females have different coloring. Males have red eyes, and the thorax is reddish-brown, with black markings. The abdomen is black, with red-orange triangular or oval spots on segments 3 to 7, with the spots growing smaller towards the posterior of the abdomen. The cerci are red-orange, and the legs are black in young males and reddish in older males. Females have reddish-brown eyes. The face is green, yellow, or tan. The front of the thorax has a broad black stripe, bordered by brown, and the sides are yellow with a few brown or black markings. The abdomen is black, with segments 2 and 3 colored yellow and large yellow spots on segments 4 to 7. The cerci are white and the legs are black, with sections of yellow. Amanda's pennant dragonflies have dark patches close to the body on their otherwise clear wings. Males have large hind wing patches that are dark brown, edged in orange, with bright red veins and orange stigmas. Females have orange hind wing patches with brown markings and light brown stigmas. Nymphs are greenish, with brown patterns. They can be distinguished from other dragonfly species by the short and spine-like dorsal hooks on abdominal segments 3 to 7, and slender, straight lateral spines on 8 and 9. Dragonfly nymphs have enlarged labia used to catch prey. The labium is spoon shaped in this species, with large palps that enclose prey. (Beaton, 2007; Needham, et al., 2000; Paulson, 2011)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes colored or patterned differently
  • Range length
    27 to 31 mm
    1.06 to 1.22 in
  • Range wingspan
    46 to 52 mm
    1.81 to 2.05 in

Development

Celithemis amanda is hemimetabolous. This species is active from April to November. Eggs hatch in the water and a prolarva emerges. The prolarva looks nothing like the actual larva, and only lasts a few minutes before molting into a larva, also known as a nymph. Dragonflies in general average about 12 instars; the exact number for this species is unknown. At the end of their final instar, nymphs climb out from the water just a few inches, often on rocks or vegetation. To eclose, the larval skin splits, and the teneral emerges. Tenerals are sexually immature adults. The wings fill and the body expands as the teneral rests and waits, with emergence taking place during the day. The tenerals then leave the water. After a period of time, the cuticle hardens and the definitive color pattern sets in as the teneral develops into an adult. (Needham, et al., 2000; Paulson, 2011)

Reproduction

While there is little information specific to the mating habits of Celithemis amanda, its mating habits are likely similar to most dragonfly species. In male odonates, the genital opening and seminal vesicle are separated in the abdomen. Sperm has to be transferred from the genital opening under the ninth abdominal segment to the seminal vesicle under the second abdominal segment. This sperm transfer occurs before mating. Males fly around in search of mates and will grab the female with their legs once they find them. The male clasps the female with his terminal appendages at the back of her head to link in tandem. Once linked, the female swings her abdomen forward, to connect the tip of her abdomen with the seminal vesicle to initiate sperm transfer from the male. Oftentimes, the male will have to flush out sperm in the female from another male. The female also holds on to the abdomen of the male with her legs. This is called the "wheel position". Copulation lasts a very short time and takes place in flight or while perched on vegetation. Dragonflies are polygynandrous, with males and females mating many times with different mates during their lives. Older dragonflies often have marks from previous matings such as scratches on females' eyes from being grasped in tandem. (Abbott, 2005; Paulson, 2011)

After mating, pairs of Amanda's pennants stay together and usually oviposit in tandem, although females may separate and oviposit on their own. They fly in search of a suitable site, with eggs typically laid along the shoreline. Since dragonflies can mate many times in their lives, females can lay many different batches from different matings. (Paulson, 2011)

  • Breeding interval
    Amanda's pennants can mate many times throughout their life.
  • Breeding season
    This species mates during the summer.

Adults of Celithemis amanda provide provisioning in their eggs and lay the eggs in a suitable aquatic environment for the nymphs to live in upon hatching. Otherwise, they provide no more parental care. (Paulson, 2011)

  • Parental Investment
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female

Lifespan/Longevity

Celithemis amanda likely lives for about a month after reaching adulthood. (Paulson, 2011)

  • Average lifespan
    Status: wild
    1 months

Behavior

Celithemis amanda nymphs are active, often searching for aquatic prey amongst the weeds where they live. They are good climbers, but poor swimmers, and are therefore often found on vegetation. Dragonfly nymphs have gills located in their rectum and can also shoot water from their rectum to use as jet propulsion for underwater movement. Adults are diurnal, searching for prey and mates during the day, while roosting in vegetation at night. Dragonflies are strong fliers and are able to move all four wings independently, allowing them to hover, move forward or backward, change speeds, and turn on a dime. However, they can be battered by strong winds and severe weather. Pennants get their common name due to their habit of perching on vegetation, as they wave in the air similar to a pennant. They perch horizontally, with the abdomen held up. Celithemis amanda usually perches low on vegetation, just above water level. In many related dragonfly species, the males are territorial; this is likely true for C. amanda males as well. Males make short, slow flights, searching for other males that may be encroaching on their ovipositon site and other areas of their territory. (Neal and Whitcomb, 1972; Needham, et al., 2000; Paulson, 2011)

Home Range

There is currently no information available regarding the home range size of Amanda's pennants.

Communication and Perception

Dragonflies have very acute vision, with large eyes that have a wide sight range. They are good at detecting movement, which is useful when hunting during flight, but cannot see well below or above themselves. They can also see UV light. Vision is used to detect mates, and a tactile connection between mates is vitally important during copulation, as the male grasps the female by the head with his terminal appendages throughout the act. The tactile connection is also maintained during oviposition for Celithemis amanda. (Paulson, 2011)

  • Perception Channels
  • visual
  • ultraviolet

Food Habits

Amanda's pennants are predators, feeding on insects. Adults tend to perch on vegetation and wait for prey to fly past and then pursue it. Nymphs quickly extend their enlarged labium to grab prey such as aquatic insects, other Odonata nymphs, and other aquatic organisms. (Paulson, 2011)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects

Predation

Predators of adult Amanda's pennants include birds, spiders, robber flies, ants, and other Odonata. Dragonflies are particularly vulnerable in their teneral stage, when they are weak and often remain on land for a period of time before taking their first flight. Frogs and freshwater fish can prey on adults that are ovipositing in the water. Predators of nymphs include water beetles, fish, aquatic birds, and other Odonata nymphs. The green-brown coloration on nymphs acts as camouflage, allowing them to blend in with their surrounding vegetation. (Needham, et al., 2000; Needham, et al., 2000; Paulson, 2011)

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • cryptic

Ecosystem Roles

Both adults and nymphs of Celithemis amanda are voracious predators of other insects, both terrestrial and aquatic. They also serve as prey to a large variety of other organisms including birds, fish, and other Odonata. (Paulson, 2011)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

There are no known positive effects of Celithemis amanda on humans.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse effects of Celithemis amanda on humans.

Conservation Status

Celithemis amanda has no special conservation status.

Contributors

Angela Miner (author), Animal Diversity Web Staff, Leila Siciliano Martina (editor), Animal Diversity Web Staff.

Glossary

Nearctic

living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map

agricultural

living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

carnivore

an animal that mainly eats meat

cryptic

having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.

ectothermic

animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature

fertilization

union of egg and spermatozoan

freshwater

mainly lives in water that is not salty.

heterothermic

having a body temperature that fluctuates with that of the immediate environment; having no mechanism or a poorly developed mechanism for regulating internal body temperature.

insectivore

An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.

internal fertilization

fertilization takes place within the female's body

iteroparous

offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

metamorphosis

A large change in the shape or structure of an animal that happens as the animal grows. In insects, "incomplete metamorphosis" is when young animals are similar to adults and change gradually into the adult form, and "complete metamorphosis" is when there is a profound change between larval and adult forms. Butterflies have complete metamorphosis, grasshoppers have incomplete metamorphosis.

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

oviparous

reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.

polygynandrous

the kind of polygamy in which a female pairs with several males, each of which also pairs with several different females.

riparian

Referring to something living or located adjacent to a waterbody (usually, but not always, a river or stream).

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season

sedentary

remains in the same area

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

tactile

uses touch to communicate

temperate

that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

territorial

defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.

savanna

A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.

visual

uses sight to communicate

References

Abbott, J. 2005. Dragonflies and Damselflies of Texas and the South-Central United States. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Beaton, G. 2007. Dragonflies and Damselflies of Georgia and the Southeast. Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press.

Neal, T., W. Whitcomb. 1972. Odonata in the Florida Soybean Agroecosystem. The Florida Entomologist, 55/2: 107-114.

Needham, J., M. Westfall, Jr., M. May. 2000. Dragonflies of North America. Gainesville, Florida: Scientific Publishers, Inc.

Paulson, D. 2011. Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.