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Epitheca spinigera
Spiny Baskettail
Family: Corduliidae
Species account author: Robert Cannings.
Extracted from Introducing the Dragonflies of British Columbia and the Yukon (2002)


© Robert A. Cannings     (Photo ID #1375)


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Distribution of Epitheca spinigera in British Columbia.
(Click on the map to view a larger version.)
Source: (for the static map) RBCM and BCCDC 2004 ©

Species Information


The orange-yellow face has a dark T-spot. Male’s appendages shown in figure. Female’s appendages are 3 mm long; vulvar lamina shown in figure. Length: ♂ ♀ 48 mm.

Flight Period

B.C., early May to late August (most in June).

Genus Description

Baskettails live around the northern hemisphere. Rather than metallic green and black, like other emeralds, baskettails have a brown thorax and a dark abdomen with yellow marks on the sides. The hindwings are marked with brown at the base. Females fly with the end of the abdomen curled upwards, the forked, finger-like vulvar lamina holding a ball of eggs as in a basket, which gives the group its English name. To lay the eggs, a female dips the egg mass into the water and it uncoils in long, gelatinous strands that float near the surface. Many females may contribute to communal egg masses. Larvae are less hairy and less coated with algae than those of our other emeralds; they have prominent dorsal and lateral spines on a broad abdomen. Some biologists place the North American species in the genus Tetragoneuria.


Family Description

Medium-sized dragonflies most often seen around lakes, boggy streams and peatlands in the mountains or in the north. Of 16 species in our region, 13 have Northern or Beringian ranges. The eyes, often brilliant green, meet broadly on top of the head. The shape of the anal loop in the hindwing is distinctive. Adults seldom perch during feeding and males frequently hover when patrolling for mates; when resting, they normally hang vertically or obliquely from vegetation. In flight, a male frequently arches its abdomen, which is often narrower at the base and tip. Larvae are usually squat and rather hairy; they sprawl in the mud and detritus in the bottom of the waters where they live.
Field Notes

Infrequently encountered in the southern valleys of the province, although at times it can be numerous. Breeds in lakes and ponds, but often seen hunting well away from water. Flies early in the season.


Transition. Widespread in southern B.C.

Status Information

Origin StatusProvincial StatusBC List
(Red Blue List)
NativeS4YellowNot Listed

BC Ministry of Environment: BC Species and Ecosystems Explorer--the authoritative source for conservation information in British Columbia.