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 = 0

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Duckweed Firetail (Telebasis byersi) by Mark Shields
Compare with: Eastern Red Damsel  
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 in females.

[Google images]     [Global Biodiversity Information Facility]      iNaturalist
Click on county for list of all its records for Duckweed Firetail
Flight Charts
Distribution Throughout the Coastal Plain, but essentially absent from the adjacent Piedmont, though there are recent records for the eastern portion (Orange, Wake, and Anson counties). Absent from the mountains. Possibly absent in some counties in the northeastern Coastal Plain. Expanding its range inland and presumably also at more sites within the Coastal Plain, in the last 10 years.
Abundance Uncommon and local over much of the Coastal Plain, but can be numerous in a few places, as witnessed by a remarkable one-day tally of 168 at a Bladen County impoundment in 2022! There are a few other counts of 20 or more. Very rare in the Piedmont portion of the range, where all records so far are of singletons accidentally found by the photographers; it has not been intentionally found in this province yet.
Flight The records fall between mid-May to late September, though there is a recent (2019) sight record for mid-April at a location (Merchants Millpond State Park) with numerous records.
Habitat As the name implies, found mostly at ponds or swampy pools where there are dense mats of duckweeds; older millponds have a handful of records. However, seems to avoid, or be scarce in, areas where Eastern Pondhawks (a presumed predator) are abundant.

See also Habitat Account for Coastal Plain Herbaceous Ponds and Sloughs
Behavior Commonly perches on duckweed or other floating vegetation. Note that the majority of the photos on the webpage are males perched on duckweeds.
Comments The male is so bright red that, where present, it should be obvious. There has been much effort in sampling Sandhills lakes and ponds in recent years, and this striking species is very localized there -- yet has been found at a few sites farther west in the eastern Piedmont. However, stands of duckweeds are quite local; most Sandhills ponds have plenty of floating aquatic plants but seem to lack duckweed species. Even in Coastal Plain sites that have an abundance of duckweeds, spotting a Firetail can be very difficult, at least from shore, especially where Eastern Pondhawks are commonly seen perching on the duckweeds. Mike Turner has had excellent success in finding the species in the past few years, though he often wades into the ponds for closer searching, counting, and photographing. Based on the great number of recent records, many with photos, there is no doubt that the species is spreading in range and is moving westward in the state.
State Rank S3S4
State Status
Global Rank G5
Federal Status
Other Name
Species account update: LeGrand on 2023-01-18 17:51:36

Photo Gallery for Duckweed Firetail   33 photos are available.
Only the most recent 30 are shown.
Other NC Galleries:    Jeff Pippen    Will Cook    Ted Wilcox
Photo 1 by: L. Arent

Comment: Wake, 2023-07-05, Prairie Ridge Ecostation Pond
Photo 2 by: Emma Blackford

Comment: Wake, 2022-08-31, Prairie Ridge Ecostation pond
Photo 3 by: Alicia Jackson

Comment: Moore; C, 2022-08-24, Male, found midday in a cobweb under light at office building
Photo 4 by: Alicia Jackson

Comment: Moore; C, 2022-08-24, - Male, caught midday in a cobweb under light at office buildin
Photo 5 by: Harry LeGrand; Lori Arent

Comment: Harnett; P, 2022-08-08, Cape Fear River locations - Lillington Botanical Trail pond.
Photo 6 by: Mike Turner

Comment: Harnett; P, 2022-07-17, Lillington Botanical Trail - Reflection Pond
Photo 7 by: Amy Padgett

Comment: Bladen, 2022-07-14, Swampy early successional cutover just southeast of Clarkton. 34.460756, -78.637513 iNaturalist #126276366 - Male
Photo 8 by: Mike Turner

Comment: Sampson, 2022-06-26, Sandy Creek at SR 2303 (Hollow Bridge Rd.)
Photo 9 by: Mike Turner

Comment: Cumberland, 2022-06-26, Jessup’s Mill Pond
Photo 10 by: Harry LeGrand, Lori Arent

Comment: Robeson, 2022-06-26, Richland and Long swamps, along NC 71 west of Red Springs - males; Long Swamp; photo by Lori Arent
Photo 11 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Robeson, 2022-06-24, Lumber River, from LURI-Princess Ann Access to Lumber River Campground and back, by kayak
Photo 12 by: Mike Turner

Comment: Robeson, 2022-06-24, Richland Swamp at NC 71 - 34.806, -79.233 - 5 pairs ovipositing in tandem
Photo 13 by: Indigo Ray Edwards

Comment: Wake, 2022-06-21, Around the Prairie Ridge Ecostation pond. iNaturalist record #122815461 - Male
Photo 14 by: Mike Turner

Comment: Hoke, 2022-06-19, Nicholson Creek Game Land - 3 pairs ovipositing in tandem
Photo 15 by: Mike Turner

Comment: Scotland, 2022-06-18, Lumber River State Park - Chalk Banks access - 1 ad.male 1 teneral
Photo 16 by: Mike Turner

Comment: Bladen, 2022-06-12, Turnbull Creek at SR 1331 (Braxton Edge Rd.) - ad.males
Photo 17 by: Mike Turner

Comment: Bladen, 2022-06-05, Whitehall Plantation Game Land-Whitehall Tract
Photo 18 by: Lance Medric

Comment: Brunswick, 2020-07-18, Crab Catcher Loop NE, Leland; iNaturalist Record #53490887
Photo 19 by: Ashwin Srinivasan

Comment: Orange, 2019-09-30, UNC - Chapel Hill -- photo of male - photo in iNaturalist
Photo 20 by: Mark Shields, Hunter Phillips

Comment: Dare; OBU, 2018-06-29, Nags Head Woods Preserve - Males on ponds. First record for county
Photo 21 by: F. Williams, S. Williams

Comment: Gates, 2017-08-27, Merchants Millpond State Park - Pair ovipositing
Photo 22 by: Lynn Swafford

Comment: Beaufort, 2017-06-27,
Photo 23 by: Conrad Wernett, Alyssa Wernett

Comment: Columbus, 2017-05-28 - Lake Waccamaw. Two single males, and one pair ovipositing near boat ramp near the state park.
Photo 24 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Pender, 2016-08-04, Holly Shelter Game Land, Greentree impoundment along Northeast Cape Fear River
Photo 25 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Jones, 2016-08-04, Brock Mill Pond, Trenton
Photo 26 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Beaufort, 2016-07-08, Goose Creek State Park
Photo 27 by: Chris and Cheryl Talkington

Comment: Anson, 2014-08-24, flew into my car and landed on my dashboard while driving the wildlife loop
Photo 28 by: Conrad Wernett

Comment: Onslow, 2014-06-28 - Males and females in duckweed covered borrow pond.
Photo 29 by: Alicia Jackson

Comment: Tyrrell, 2014-06-24, Palmetto-Peartree Preserve - Male
Photo 30 by: Conrad Wernett

Comment: Jones, 2014-06-22 - Pairs and individuals spotted along bank at Brock