Odonates have highly developed sight. The large compound eyes are used to capture prey.
Communication Channels: chemical
Perception Channels: visual ; infrared/heat ; tactile ; chemical
This species is secure and currently not of any conservation concern.
US Federal List: no special status
CITES: no special status
State of Michigan List: no special status
Eggs hatch in the early spring of the following year after overwintering. They emerge when the water temperature reaches about 10 degrees Celsius. At the beginning of the first free-living larval stadium (period between one molt and the next) ecdysis (shedding of the outer skin) occurs. This larval stage is restricted to the spring and summer seasons. After molting, the larva increases in size and changes in coloring can occur. This process takes place over about an hour.
After going through a series of molts S. vicinum begins showing signs of becoming an adult dragonfly. These signs include: setae on the dorsum of the head, contraction of the labium and microtrichia on the wings. It can take an individual anywhere from one to seven weeks to become ready to emerge as an adult. The first adults to emerge of this species are seen in late June. Once an individual has become an adult, it has two main goals: to eat and to mate. The pre-reproductive stage in S. vicinum can last anywhere from 30-87 days, depending on the latitude where they are found. Once they reach sexual maturity, individuals seek a mate, lay eggs and die soon afterward.
Development - Life Cycle: metamorphosis
Larva can sometimes deplete fish fry populations that fishermen want to culture.
Dragonflies can be used to protect humans from mosquitoes and blackflies. One experiment has show that larval species of Bradinopyga geminata were able to destroy an entire population of mosquitoes within a 194-liter drum in a matter of hours. Application of this method would allow pest control of mosquitoes without the use of chemicals. Several studies have show that Sympetrum species are apparently immune to pollutants. This could possibly help humans, in the long run, if we can develop ways to deal with pollutants if understood in detail.
Positive Impacts: research and education; controls pest population
Dragonflies help keep insect populations at a stable level. Sympetrum vicinum has a commensal relationship with the species mentioned below and are also parasitized by certain species of mites. Parasitic chironomid fly larvae can be found on the back of the head, prothorax, wing sheaths and legs of S. vicinum. Spiroxys contortus uses S. vicinum as an intermediate host (turtles are the definitive host).
The larvae of this species are sprawlers. They lie on pond bottoms and attack prey as it comes into their immediate area. The family of dragonflies that includes S. vicinum, Libellulidae, are all perching adults. This means that they sit and wait for their prey (small flying insects) to fly by. Once they see it, they take off and pursue it, with an amazing success rate of 97%. The study recording these data was done through keen observations from binoculars and video recorders. Trays were set out within patches of Eleocharis to maximize the test results by limiting the potential landing site area within two artificial ponds.
Foods eaten by larval S. vicinum include medium-sized water fleas and relatives of Cladocera; Ostracoda; Oligochaeta; burrowing and climbing flies of the family Chironomidae and Ceratopogonidae. Sympetrum vicinum will also eat larva of smaller dragonfly species.
Animal Foods: insects; aquatic or marine worms; aquatic crustaceans; zooplankton
Primary Diet: carnivore (Insectivore , Eats non-insect arthropods)
Sympetrum vicinum is widely distributed throughout much of North America. The species occurs throughout the most of the U.S. except the desert Southwest, the northern Rocky Mountains, peninsular Florida and the Gulf coasts of Louisiana and Texas. It's found in southeastern and extreme southwestern Canada.
Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native )
Sympetrum vicinum inhabits marshes, lakes, ponds and bogs in areas that are usually somewhat wooded. The ponds that this species inhabits must be permanent and have slow flowing water.
Habitat Regions: temperate ; freshwater
Aquatic Biomes: lakes and ponds; rivers and streams
Wetlands: marsh ; swamp ; bog
Other Habitat Features: urban ; suburban ; estuarine
The life cycle of this dragonfly is approximately one year.
Sympetrum vicinum has a dull yellow face, which in males becomes reddish toward maturity. The pterothorax is red on the front while the sides are an olive color. This species has reduced venation with hyaline (clear, colorless) wings with a yellow base. The abdomen is slender and red, and is lighter than in other species of Sympetrum.
Average mass: 5.5 g.
Range length: 26 to 35 mm.
Range wingspan: 21 to 23 mm.
Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: sexes colored or patterned differently
When spotted by predators the larvae form simply lies immobile. Large individuals, when attacked by the snake Regina alleni will actually bite the snake's mouth, which makes the snake bleed. Usually the snake will let go of the dragonfly larva. For some reason these snakes swallow dragonfly larvae head first. It has also been hypothesized, but not documented, that individuals may produce sounds to ward off predators.
Once sexual maturity has been reached males begin looking for mates. When a female is found and the male determines visually and physically that she is of the same species, copulation will take place. The male places sperm into the female's genital tract. The eggs are laid in summer and "complete katatrepsis" (embryo revolution) occurs in autumn. The insects then pass the winter as fully formed embryos. Once oviposition has taken place the sexes separate and stop flying in tandem.
Breeding season: Late summer to early autumn
Key Reproductive Features: seasonal breeding ; sexual ; fertilization (Internal ); oviparous
There is no parental investment beyond laying of eggs.
Parental Investment: pre-fertilization (Protecting: Female)