15 May 2012

Wanted: Common and Slender Baskettails

Baskettails in the genus Epitheca are some of the earliest odonates to emerge in spring. Several days ago, I saw multiple individuals for the first time this season. In southeast Michigan, these are usually in the Common/Slender Baskettail complex (E. cynosura, E. costalis, or intergrades).

These two species are very hard to tell apart, even in the hand with magnification. Some may elude identification completely. We are unsure of the exact range of E. costalis in Michigan, what proportion of the population are intergrades, and how much the morphology (in particular wing coloration) of either species varies across the area.

We encourage the collection of specimens of Epithecas of these species; small series from various locations are especially helpful. It's not completely necessary that you conclusively identify them.  For information on this species complex, take a look at the post at Urban Dragon Hunters on the Wayne County record of E. costalis (then called Stripe-winged Baskettail) and the following resources: