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

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Related Species in CORDULIIDAE: Number of records added in 2021 = 0

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Coppery Emerald (Somatochlora georgiana) by Ed Lam. 2009-08-01 Rockingham County, NH
Compare with:   Distinctive
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Note: these identification tips apply specifically to mature males; features may differ in immature males and in females.

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Click on county for list of all its records for Coppery Emerald
flight charts
distribution Present over the eastern Piedmont and western 2/3rds of the Coastal Plain. Ranges west to Rockingham and Anson counties; and east to Northampton, Beaufort, and Pender counties. It seems to be absent in the far eastern counties, as well as in the western half of the Piedmont and the mountains.
abundance Puzzling. Most references consider this to be a rare species, yet the great number of counties recorded in NC suggest otherwise. Hardly any biologist alive in NC seems to be familiar with the species, as there are no NC photos on websites and no recent observations. It has been recorded in 29 NC counties, but just one in VA, three in SC, and two in GA (OdonataCentral range map, 2018). And, specimens from Duncan Cuyler and others at the University of Florida yield only 14 date records. Where are all of the other records? Undoubtedly the species has also declined in recent decades, as a species this "widespread" and not overly difficult to identify should certainly have been found in the last 20 years. Finally, in 2020, one was found caught in a spider web in Durham County in late July 2020! Note that this 2020 individual had some odd markings not typical of most Coppery Emeralds; most experts agreed on the identification as this species, with such "caveats", but one was unsure as to which Somatochlora species it truly is (see photo caption below). Despite what the map shows, this is clearly a rare species in NC today.
flight The NC flight occurs between late June and mid-August.
habitat Creeks and other slow-moving acidic streams, in forested areas.
behavior Adults are somewhat secretive. They are most frequently seen flying 30 or more feet above ground, in late afternoon. They perch on twigs, but often well above ground. Males can sometimes be seen patrolling over streams.
comments Exactly why there are so many more records for NC than in practically any other state -- just about half of all county records known are from NC (!) -- is not known. Despite it being colored like no other dragonfly, and should be obvious when seen, it is clearly not often encountered except with a purposeful search (such as near dusk), or with long nets to catch high-flying dragonflies. Because there has been just one recent record, the NC Natural Heritage Program has moved the species from its Watch List to the Rare List in 2012. We agree with Paulson (2011): "This is one of our rarest dragonflies, very seldom encountered in most of its range." Some enlightenment on this mysterious species was made by Chris Hill, who netted and collected one in Horry County, SC, on 25 June 2015 (OdonataCentral photo and data). He indicated that the species is very hard to capture, and this strongly suggests that most of Cuyler's apparent non-specimen records were sight records.

The State Rank has been moved now (2020) to S1? -- still just one record in nearly 30 years, but ought to be present farther south. Maybe the solution to finding this species is to "erect" more spider webs?!
state_status SR
S_rank S1?
fed_status
G_rank G3G4
date_spread [Overwinter:] [Date Spread:] [No Late Date:] [Split on Feb:] [Default:]
synonym
other_name
Species account update: LeGrand on 2021-02-08 14:12:10

Photo Gallery for Coppery Emerald   2 photos are shown. Other NC Galleries:    Jeff Pippen    Will Cook    Ted Wilcox
Photo 1 by: Anonymus

Comment: Durham, 2020-07-31, Found in a spider web by an anonymous observer in Durham, NC and posted to Odonata Central by Josh Rose (OC#1438247). This ID was proposed by Josh Rose and Chris Hill, and confirmed by Nick Donnelly and Jerrell Daigle via the Odonata-L listserv. Dennis Paulson recognized it as Somatochlora, but was hesitant to assign it to S. georgiana due to the odd pattern of pale stripes on the lateral thorax (along with other atypical characters). This site’s editors think that it is most likely a dark S. georgiana, though the thoracic pattern remains puzzling. - Male.
Photo 2 by: Anonymus

Comment: Durham, 2020-07-31, Found in a spider web by an anonymous observer in Durham, NC and posted to Odonata Central by Josh Rose (OC#1438247). This ID was proposed by Josh Rose and Chris Hill, and confirmed by Nick Donnelly and Jerrell Daigle via the Odonata-L listserv. Dennis Paulson recognized it as Somatochlora, but was hesitant to assign it to S. georgiana due to the odd pattern of pale stripes on the lateral thorax (along with other atypical characters). This site’s editors think that it is most likely a dark S. georgiana, though the thoracic pattern remains puzzling. - Male.