Wisconsin Odonata Survey


Neurocordulia molesta  (Walsh, 1863)
Smoky Shadowdragon

Corduliidae, Emerald Family

The shadowdragons are medium-sized, orange to brown dragonflies that hang in dense shaded vegetation by day and become active and feed only for brief periods at dawn and dusk. Therefore, the adults are rarely seen unless a person specifically looks for them.


Global: G4     Wisconsin: S3    

Distinguishing Characteristics:

This brown-bodied dragonfly varies from 1.8 to 2.1 inches in length. Each smoky gray wing has a short row of small dark brown dots at base of the wing. With little pattern on the body, there are some yellow "blotches" on side of the thorax near the dorsal edge. The face is greenish with olive-green eyes. The legs are pale. The smoky shadowdragon tends to fly over water during last hour before the darkness, most intensely in the last half hour. Populations of Neurocordulia are therefore most easily found by searching appropriate habitats for exuviae during June and July.

Description of Habitat/Range:

Ranging in eastern and southern United States, from Louisiana to Ohio, this species can be found at clean large rivers and sometimes large streams. In Wisconsin, it is known from southwestern and west-central counties.

Flight Season:

Throughout its range, the typical flight season is from early June to early 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 smoky shadowdragon
Male smoky shadowdragon. © Dan Jackson

Photo of Male smoky shadowdragon
Male smoky shadowdragon. © Dan Jackson

Photo of Female smoky shadowdragon
Female smoky shadowdragon. © Dennis Paulson

Photo of Smoky shadowdragon exuvia
Smoky shadowdragon exuvia. © Dan Jackson

This site is produced in conjunction with the Wisconsin Aquatic and Terrestrial Resources Inventory and sponsored by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The information presented on this site is subject to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' Legal Notices, Disclaimers, and Terms of Use.