What is it?
Location: Maine
January 23, 2011 7:13 pm
A friend took this photo and we can not identify it…can you help?
Signature: Not sure


Dear Not sure,
Luckily for us, there was a field on our submission form for a location, or we might have gotten no useful information from your email.  Did your friend find this creature in the kitchen? or during one of the snowstorms that is currently blanketing much of the northeast? or as we suspect, in a lake last summer?  This is a Dragonhunter Naiad, the larva of a Dragonfly.  You may compare your image to this posting of a photo of a larval Dragonhunter,
Hagenius brevistylus, on BugGuide.  The Dragonhunter has one of the most distinctive looking Naiads, the name given to all aquatic larvae, of all the North American Dragonflies.  According to the Insects of West Virginia website:  “Dragonhunters often capture dragonflies nearly their own size” which explains the common name Dragonhunter.  According to a University of Michigan web page:  “Hagenius brevistylus is most certainly Michigan’s most distinctively shaped odonate larva (Fig. 1). The very flat abdomen is broad, nearly circular in outline, bearing dark mid-dorsal hooks and sharp lateral angles on abdominal segments 2-9. This shape is shared by other gomphid genera in other parts of the world and appears related to the habit of burrowing in leafy trash.”  Over time, the appearance of the larvae may have evolved to mimic dead leaves like elm tree leaves ensuring that predators might overlook the tasty larvae, which then contributes to the survival of the species.

Ed. Note:  August 10, 2014:  This is a ventral view, and it can be compared to this image on BugGuide.

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Location: Maine

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