Ten species of Epitheca occur in North America. Larvae live on stalks of rooted plants and among plant detritus of small, woodland streams, ponds, lakes, and sometimes (in northern areas) in sphagnum bogs. They are climbers and sprawlers in these habitats, stalking their prey. Some are easily captured from stalks of rooted plants. Others are not easily dislodged from debris by ordinary methods--in order to capture most specimens, debris must be lifted from the water and specimens removed by hand.
Engulfer / Predator
Widespread (east of the Rocky Mtns.)
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Order: Nymph with mask-like labium below chewing mouthparts. Wings developing in wing pads. Segmented legs present, each with two claws.
Family: Suborder Anisoptera (i.e., dragonflies: with stout body shape, head more narrow than thorax and abdomen; end of abdomen with 5 short pointed projections, external gills absent). Labial mask spoon-shaped, usually with hairs inside palm of mask (dorsal premental setae) and along margins of palpal lobes (at end of mask). Ventrally, median groove extending from basal hinge of mask to about 1/3 to 1/2 way to distal margin of mask, often faint. Distal margin of each palpal lobe scalloped, with each crenulation rounded and separated by deep notches, usually ¼ to ½ as high as long, each bearing at least 1 seta. Frontal horn usually absent. Paraprocts (ventrolateral pair of posterior spines) usually less than twice as long as cerci (dorsolateral pair of posterior spines). Mature larvae 13-28 mm long.
Genus: Distal margin of labial mask scalloped, each notch shallow, so that lobes each less than half-circle. Dorsal midline of abdomen with well-developed dorsal hooks on some segments, best viewed laterally. Lateral spines on abdominal segments 8 and 9, those on segment 9 at least twice as long as those on segment 8, at least as long as middorsal length of segment 9.