Wisconsin Odonata Survey


Nehalennia gracilis  Morse, 1895
Sphagnum Sprite

Coenagrionidae, Pond Damsel Family
"Most Wanted" Species


Global: G5     Wisconsin: S2S3    

Distinguishing Characteristics:

The sprites are easily separated from all other damselflies by their small size and metallic green thorax without stripes. A tiny damselfly, the body length of this species varies from 0.9 to 1.2 inches. The male's thorax is bright metallic green above and pale green to blue sides. The abdomen is dark iridescent green above except for blue tip. It has more blue on the tip of the abdomen than the sedge sprite. The female is similar to the male but with less blue on the tip. The sedge sprite male is similar to the sphagnum sprite female, but the female has lighter dorsal markings near the end of the abdomen.

Description of Habitat/Range:

Ranging throughout eastern United States and southeastern Canada, this species can be found at sphagnum bogs and fens. It is rare in Wisconsin, being known from a few bogs scattered around the state. However, due to its similarity to the sedge sprite, it may often be confused with that species.

Flight Season:

Throughout its range, the typical flight season is from early June to mid-August.

Shading illustrates monthly percentages of the total flight season records for the species. Each flight season record is a unique date/location/observer combination where one or more adult or an exuvia was recorded (excludes nymphs). The actual number of flight season records for each month is shown in parentheses.

Flight seasons begin earlier in the southern part of the state, often by a week or more. Also, flight charts may not be accurate for rare species because of few data available.
View user-submitted photos

(Click on photos to enlarge)
Photo of Male sphagnum sprite
Male sphagnum sprite. © Dan Jackson

Photo of Male sphagnum sprite
Male sphagnum sprite. © Dan Jackson

Photo of Female spagnum sprite
Female spagnum sprite. © Dan Jackson

Photo of Sphagnum sprite pair
Sphagnum sprite pair. © Dan Jackson

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