Green Clearwing



external image SuperStock_1463-271.jpgThe Green Clearwing (Erythemis simpliciocollis) is more than a regular backyard dragonfly. By the pond, dragonflies of all colors are buzzing around. Dragonflies are not only different colors, they are different species as well. Other names for the Clearwing is the Green Jacket, Eastern Pondhawk and the Common Pondhawk. This particular dragonfly is a female, for it is green. Male clearwings are usually blue, or half green and half blue. Odonata, the Order the Green Clearwing is in, means "toothed one" in Latin.
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Arthropoda
Class Insecta
Order Odonata
Suborder Anisoptera
Family Libellulidae
Genus Erythemis
Species simplicicollis




Morphology


All dragonflies like the Green Clearwing start off as eggs in a pond and live for only a short life of a year. It starts out with the laying of the eggs. When the male and female reprodeuce, the female will lay her eggs in the pond and leave them to hatch later on when they are ready. Once the eggs hatch, the babies produced are called nymphs.They usually hatch in the beginning of winter and remain in the water until the pond thaws during the spring time. Sometimes, the maturing of the nymphs takes up to four years! When the nymphs are mature, they crawl out of the water, up a stem of a plant and crawl out of their skin into dragonflies. The skin left behind is called the exuvia. Once the nymph becomes a dragonfly, the dragonfly lives for another two months. In those two months, the dragonfly finds a mate and lays eggs of their own. the average size of the adult dragonfly is 7 cm long.


Habitat

Like many other dragonflies, the Green Clearwing can be found mostly by or in ponds. They love to stop and sit on mats of algae, duckweed, water lillies, and other flat, floating plants. They are mostly spotted in the summer months when the weather is warm in the Western Hemisphere. The Green Clearwing can also be spotted in swamps and meadows also. Other dragonflies that look similar to the Green Clearwing, like the Blue Dasher, and others that don't, like the Widow Skimmer, tend to collect in the same general regions as the Green Clearwing.
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Geographical Range

The Green Clearwing can be found within the regions of Eastern North America, the Great Plains, South of Texas and in some areas of Arizona and New Mexico. As you can see in this map below, Green Clearwings are only found in North America. Most of the Green Clearwings are found on the Northeast Coast.external image map_of_Erythemis_simplicicollis.jpg( http://www.discoverlife.org/nh/maps/Insecta/Odonata/Libellulidae/Erythemis/map_of_Erythemis_simplicicollis.jpg )
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Mating Behavior

When dragonflies mate, it can be a dangerous event for both the male and female. When males and females look for their mates, the act is called "hunting" - a violent word used for this kind of event. Some male dragonflies are called different names for the different styles of hunting for a mate. "Stealers" attack their desired mates by physically beating her - biting, pulling, ramming, and spliting them. "Water lurkers" grab the female while they are laying their eggs, just for the fun of it, even if she drowns in the process. Females also defend themselves by flipping, zigzagging, fleeing quickly, plunging into the water, spiraling upward or downward or murderously fighting back. The male sometimes bites the female to hold her in place. This violent way of reproducing is a great example of how chivarly has offical died and domestic violence is a huge problem these days. But dragonflies must be doing something right for there are 6,000 species and have been on this earth for 300 million years.

Dragonfly Life Cycle
Dragonfly Life Cycle

Life Cycle

The life cycle of the dragonfly is quite simple. The mother dragonfly will lay her eggs on a plant in the water or in a suitable place in the water. When the eggs hatch, they release larva dragonflies. Following morphology above, the larva become nymphs and live in the water until they are completely matured into adult dragonflies. They could take about four years to mature before they come out of the water in the beginning of winter as young dragonflies. The young dragonfly will shed its skin, also called the exuvia, when it comes out of the water before taking off. Once it sheds its exuvia, it is offically an adult dragonfly. Adult dragonflies have a life span of two months to find a mate and reproduce offspring of its own.



Feeding Habits

The Green Clearwing is a vicious predator. They like to hunt down and eat butterflies and other insects. They like to swoop down on flying insects, perferably, reach out, scoop up their food and dump in their mouth as quickly as possible. The Clearwing has scissoring mouthparts that cuts up its food as quick as the insect itself collects their prey. It can actually eat an insect three times its own size.

Ecological Role

Though the dragonfly itself is famous for a lot of things, like being the fastest flying insect, they are most useful for keeping the pest population in check. The Green Clearwing loves to eat spiders and other predators and pests. Mentioned above, the Clearwing can eat pests three times its size, which is very helpful for pest control.

Web Sources

http://www.austinbug.com/libellulidae.html
http://bugguide.net/node/view/58617
http://toronto-wildlife.com/Insects/Dragonflies/dragonfly_skimmer.html
http://www.stephencresswell.com/d/simplicicollis.html
http://www.carolinanature.com/odonata/pondhawk.html
http://mobugs.blogspot.com/2010/08/eastern-pondhawk.html
http://www.cirrusimage.com/dragonfly_erythemis_simplicicollis.htm
http://davesgarden.com/guides/bf/go/25/
http://www.dragonfly-site.com/dragonfly-life-cycle.html
http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2006/04/dragonfly-mating/ackerman-text/1
http://www.naturegrid.org.uk/biodiversity/invert/dragnfly.html

Learn More!

If you read this page and want to learn even MORE about dragonflies, check out these awesome 21 facts about dragonflies!

Glog

Check out my Green Clearwing Glog!
CLICK HERE!