The Dragonflies and Damselflies of North Carolina
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North Carolina's 189 Odonate species

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Related Species in COENAGRIONIDAE: Number of records for 2024-00-00 = 2

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Sphagnum Sprite (Nehalennia gracilis) by John Petranka
Compare with: Southern Sprite  
Identification Tips: Move the cursor over the image, or tap the image if using a mobile device, to reveal ID Tips.
Note: these identification tips apply specifically to mature males; features may differ in immature males and females.

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Click on county for list of all its records for Sphagnum Sprite
Flight Charts
Distribution Primarily the southern Coastal Plain, including the Sandhills region, as well as the southern mountains. Otherwise, very widely scattered over the state, though mainly in the southern part of the state. There are no records yet for the northern half of the mountains, nearly all of the Piedmont, and nearly all of the northern Coastal Plain. A photo from Tyrrell County in 2014 filled in a large gap in the range in the eastern part of the state; and a photo from Buncombe County -- taken in 2011 but not posted to this website until 2020 -- "moved" the mountain range slightly northward.
Abundance Oddly geographically bimodal, being more numerous in the Coastal Plain and the southern mountains than in the Piedmont. Uncommon to very locally fairly common in the Sandhills and in the southern mountains. Very rare to rare elsewhere, mainly in the southern Coastal Plain east of the Sandhills.
Flight The Coastal Plain records fall from early May to late September, whereas those from the mountains are from early June to late August. The very few (three) records from the Piedmont are confined from early June to early July, though certainly the flight is much wider than this. Most of the flight is finished by the end of July.
Habitat Typically where sphagnum moss is present around seeps and other boggy spots, such as some pond margins.
Behavior Males fly slowly above the sphagnum and other vegetation, often a foot or two off the ground, and can perch somewhat conspicuously on a bare twig (though usually in light shade). The similar Southern Sprite, a shorter species, tends to stay somewhat closer to thick vegetation than does a Sphagnum Sprite. Both can occur in the same sites; thus, care must be taken to correctly identify a Sphagnum Sprite.
Comments Because of the sparse array of county records across much of the state, range maps in reference books tend to incorrectly show all of NC within the range of the species, which is more common in states to our north than to our south. Though not one of our rarest damselflies, it is one of our rarest away from its Sandhills stronghold. As it is not on the N.C. Natural Heritage Program's Watch List, that fact and its locally numerous status meant that was it was recently moved from S2S3 to a less scarce S3.
State Rank S3
State Status
Global Rank G5
Federal Status
Other Name
Species account update: LeGrand on 2023-01-18 17:43:48

Photo Gallery for Sphagnum Sprite   19 photos are shown. Other NC Galleries:    Jeff Pippen    Will Cook    Ted Wilcox
Photo 1 by: Lydia Pultorak

Comment: Tyrrell, 2024-05-30, - Tyrell, 05-30-2024, Conservation Fund property ~2 miles west of Alligator River Marina
Photo 2 by: Amy Padgett

Comment: Bladen, 2024-05-22, Turnbull Creek Educational State Forest - 1:45PM at a boggy patch of sphagnum moss
Photo 3 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Richmond; C, 2023-06-30, Lake Baggett, Sandhills Game Land
Photo 4 by: Harry LeGrand, Lori Arent

Comment: Moore; C, 2022-06-26, Aberdeen Lake dam (ALD) area; Weymouth Woods (WEWO) preserve - WEWO beaver pond; photo by Lori Arent
Photo 5 by: Ken Kneidel

Comment: Scotland, 2020-05-12 - edge of Scotland Lake, male
Photo 6 by: Mark Shields, John Petranka, Sally Gewalt

Comment: Jackson, 2018-06-26, Panthertown Valley, Nantahala National Forest - in bog. First record for county.
Photo 7 by: Mike Turner, Conrad Wernett, Alyssa Wernett

Comment: Scotland, 2017-05-07, Sandhill Game Land; Scotland Lake - adult males
Photo 8 by: Alicia Jackson

Comment: Brunswick, 2016-06-16, Military Ocean Terminal at Sunny Point
Photo 9 by: Alicia Jackson

Comment: Brunswick, 2016-06-16, Military Ocean Terminal at Sunny Point
Photo 10 by: John Petranka

Comment: Moore; C, 2016-06-10, Weymouth Woods Sandhills Nature Preserve. James Creek along Gum Swamp Trail
Photo 11 by: Alicia Jackson

Comment: Tyrrell, 2014-06-04, Private property north of US 64
Photo 12 by: Alicia Jackson

Comment: Tyrrell, 2014-05-21, Private property north of US 64 - mating pair
Photo 13 by: Alicia Jackson

Comment: Tyrrell, 2014-05-18, Palmetto-Peartree Preserve
Photo 14 by: Doug Johnston, Vin Stanton

Comment: Graham, 2013-07-16, Tulula Bog - Male & Female
Photo 15 by: Doug Johnston, Vin Stanton

Comment: Graham, 2013-07-16, Tulula Bog - Male & Female
Photo 16 by: Kyle Kittelberger, Brian Bockhahn, Ed Corey

Comment: Bladen, 2013-06-04, seen at Baytree State Park
Photo 17 by: Steve Hall

Comment: Montgomery, 2011-06-23, Observed at margin of Roberdo Bog, Uwharrie National Forest
Photo 18 by: Diana and Terry Hibbitts

Comment: Buncombe, 2011-06-03, Lake Powhatan. Originally posted on iNaturalist: - Male
Photo 19 by: Randy Emmitt

Comment: Scotland, 2007-06-16, Sandhills Game Land, mated pair