An Odonata Blog- The Sprites: Sedge Sprite (Nehalennia irene) and Sphagnum Sprite (Nehalennia gracilis)

The Sprites: Sedge Sprite (Nehalennia irene) and Sphagnum Sprite (Nehalennia gracilis)

Adult sizes: Sphagnum 22-31 mm; Sedge 24-30 mm (tiny for an Odonate).

Habitat/Status: While the Sphagnum Sprite is uncommon in the Maritimes and mostly found in bogs, but occasionally fens or other marginally peaty habitats, the Sedge Sprite is very common and widespread in the Maritimes, found in just about any freshwater pond, lake or slow stream.

Typical flight period:  Early June through August for both species in the Maritimes (Sphagnum May 30th PE- September 2nd PE; Sedge May 1st NB- September 7th NS)

ID hints: The males of these two species are relatively easy to differentiate. The male Sphagnum Sprite has segments 9 and 10 completely blue and segment 8 mostly blue, but has a small dark area at the base. On the other hand, the male Sedge Sprite has segments 9 and 10 mostly blue with dark areas on either side at the base and segment 8 mostly dark with a variable amount of blue on the dorsal surface and sides. The females resemble the males of Sprites in general, but both of the females of these species are highly variable and should be examined under a microscope to confirm their identity.

General Nature Notes, Quotes and Anecdotes: While from the images of these species you might thing they are easy to find because they are so spectacularly coloured with their metallic green and powder blue finery, think again! Although the Sphagnum Sprite tends to be out in the open in its preferred habitat, the habitat itself is not always easy to access. Moreover, with regards to the Sedge Sprite, even though it is found in a wide variety of freshwater habitats, it also spends a great deal of time hiding and hunting in dense, emergent vegetation. So even though close-up its spectacular metallic green and powder colour might seem like a liability, it is actually a very good form of camouflage in this habitat.

Photo (below) of a male Sphagnum Sprite from Kellys Bog, Kouchibouguac National Park, New Brunswick, Canada, June 22nd, 2011.
Photo (below) of a male Sedge Sprite from MacLaren Pond, Fundy National Park, New Brunswick, Canada, July 17th, 2014
. *** FOR scans of females showing their ID traits, click this link:
Sprite females by Tony Thomas

Map for Sphagnum and Sedge Sprite locations

Tags: #74, #75, Déesse, Nehalennia, Species, Sphagnum, account, gracieuse, gracilis, irene, More…paisible

Views: 457

Replies to This Discussion

A couple of comments:
Excellent idea; JD and I thought of something similar. I tried to setup a PBase page without success.
Jim has succeeded but uncertain as to whether he intends to maintain it. He does own the ADIP  name for the www.

On a species basis, I believe we need more info. In this case, and there are others, what I believe is needed are comments on very similar species; specifically how to separate them in the field.
I could swear that I have seen 'tons' of this species, but of course most were irene. So, these 2 species should be considered together.

Great suggestions, Tony. I will edit my blog above to include differences with Sedge Sprite (Nehallenia irene) and likely do them together. I don't have any pics of female N. gracilis, though.


Excellent indeed Denis! Great images info and ID points. I have NO images of ANY Sprites. Three full years of looking at Odes, I am 'Spriteless'. In fact I am lacking in many other Damsels.   I think the reason is that most of them, especially these Pond Damsels, are very intimidating to ID. Its so easy to just shrug them off, ignore them as just another little 'one of those'. THIS WILL REALLY HELP!!!

I will be looking forward to more of these posts from you or Tony or whoever and you all know that others and I will make use of them. Between BNB and Gilles site, one really can't get any better NB info and help.

ps ... Tony mentioned something above sooooo .... I'll just mention I let that domain name go. I grabbed it for one reason only, to preserve it and pass it on to the appropriate party, as short domain names can sometimes be hard to come by. Its really no use to me personally ... thats another story. Also I'm not keeping the trial pBase account ... that was just to experiment with and figure out how it worked ... how to use it and maybe I could help someone with it some day. I just like to figure these things out.

A very sprightly discussion!

Also, I think it would be valuable to collect the links to such educational id pages and establish them as "stickies" that can live at the top or side of each category page (i.e., moths, odes, ...). Many of these already exist, but are lost in the deluge of hundreds of posts. That way, we can all refer to them without having to search for them. Great ideas, Denis, Jimmy, Tony, ....

Are you slacking off Chris?

Perhaps you meant a Spritely Discussion.

Nope, I did that on purpose. I guess you can use either.

adjective: spritely
(especially of an old person) lively; full of energy. [like some of us (you) on BNB]
"she was quite sprightly for her age"
synonyms:spry, lively, agile, nimble, energetic, active, full of energy, vigorous, spirited, animated, vivacious, frisky;
informalfull of vim and vigor
"sprightly Irish folk dancers"
Also, jQuery.spritely is a jQuery plugin for HTML (whatever that is), Sprite is a soft drink, and a sprite is a mythical woodland spirit.

This is a fantastic idea Denis.  I will be a step ahead for the next season.  I haven't heard of the Sprite is almost as pretty as the Bluet! 

Thanks, Nancy! They are certainly pretty and delicate, as Odonata go.

I think this topic will get lost among other discussions.
I suggest a new Group,something like Ode Species Accounts.
Preface each species account with a #, use the numbering system in Paulson's book. gracilis is #75.
Make a new discussion for irene, #74; no content needed, simply link it to #75.

Good ideas, Chris and Tony! As (at least) a temporary solution, I have created a page accessible on the main one of this discussion group (where you go to see all the discussions) entitled "Odonata Species Accounts". It needs some work, but at least this discussion has been "bookmarked" that way and *should* be easily accessible. I did do other species accounts in the past and I will see if I can fetch and link those as well, as soon as I have a little more time. There must be a fairly easy to do this without necessarily creating a whole new group, as well, but I do not mind doing that either, especially if it is the most elegant solution.

Ah Ha! I see the page you created now Denis. And I do remember the Dot-tailed one waaay back and that is there too. I didn't know that.

If anyone can't find these .... as Denis said go to the main dragonfly group page ... the links are right below all the group members icons. That works well ... great! :)


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