#490 Prince Baskettail (Epitheca princeps)

8 July

Epitheca princeps, commonly known as prince baskettails, are found in more than 27 states in the United States, spanning mostly the midwestern and eastern United States. These insects have been reported in Ontario and Quebec, Canada.

Prince baskettails, like most Corduliidae, live in and around freshwater swamps and ponds. This species lives in the surrounding vegetation of permanent ponds, lakes or streams, all of which have a slow current. The eggs and larvae live in the water, usually occupying depths of 0.5 m. The water conditions can range from clear to muddy, and a suitable oxygen concentration is necessary for the eggs laid underwater.

most often can be observed flying over trees during the day and feeding in swarms during the evening. This species can form swarms of 10 to 30 individuals and may fly with Epitheca cynosura simulans. Epitheca princeps perches to feed on larger food items; it also perches at night. It perches by hanging under twigs, often with its wings elevated. It typically is still perched at dawn, as the sun must heat its muscles before it can begin flying. Species in the genus Epitheca, prince baskettails included, are known for their strong, persistent flights.

Epitheca princeps females are solitary until they reach sexual maturity, generally occupying a range that extends farther from the water source. Males can be territorial; they guard oviposition sites from other male E. princeps and other dragonflies. However, E. princeps often is not the most dominant odonate in the habitat; thus, many Epitheca princeps males cannot patrol close to the shore.

Larvae often enter diapause during the winter. They migrate to deeper waters when temperatures are low, which enables them to avoid predation and the dangers associated with cold temperatures close to the shore.

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