Nehalennia irene

Sedge Sprite

Nehalennia irene, Sedge Sprite male

Family: Coenagrionidae

Length: 24 - 29 mm


Male sprites are hard to mistake for any other damselfly. Unlike metallic green spreadwings or jewelwings, sprites have relatively narrow wings that are held above the abdomen when at rest.

To differentiate the Sedge Sprite from other sprites, look at the apex of the abdomen. Male Sedge Sprites have pale blue on segments 8 - 10, quite limited on S8, and with a two-lobed black marking on the dorsum of S9.

Mating Sedge Sprites, Nehalennia irene, wheel position image

Female Sedge Sprites differ from the males in having the lower part of the sides of the thorax a pale yellowish color. Also, females have little to none of the pale blue coloration on the tip of the abdomen.

Nehalennia irene is found in bogs, fens, and sedge meadows. The species ranges from Alaska to Newfoundland, south to Oregon and east to West Virginia. Females oviposit in tandem into waterside plants, floating plants, and sphagnum mats (Paulson, 2011).

Photo data: All photos from Cranesville Swamp Preserve, Preston County, West Virginia. All are from 11 July 2005 except the bottom photo on the page, which is from 12 July 2003 and was taken on Fujichrome film.

GPS data: 39.5352, -79.4832. Elevation 783 meters above sea level.


Sedge Sprite, Nehalennia irene, dorsal view

Unlike the male Sphagnum Sprite (Nehalennia gracilis), the male Sedge Sprite has dark green peeking through the pale blue on the tip of the abdomen.


Sedge Sprite, Nehalennia irene, head and thorax

The species lacks eyespots, but there is a pale blue bar behind the ocelli (simple eyes).


Female Sedge Sprite, Nehalennia irene, images

The lower part of the sides of the thorax are white to yellow on female Sedge Sprites. Another characteristic of the females is that the tip of the abdomen has much less of the turquoise blue color found in males, and sometimes none at all.