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

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Sort Species by: Family   Scientific Name       [ Undocumented ]
Related Species in LIBELLULIDAE: Number of records for 2024-00-00 = 5

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Four-spotted Pennant (Brachymesia gravida) by Mark Shields
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 Four-spotted Pennant
Flight Charts
Distribution Widespread in the Coastal Plain's tidal counties. Ranges westward in recent years into the central and upper Coastal Plain. Thought formerly to be a presumed storm-based stray to the central Piedmont (Mecklenburg County), where several were seen and documented with photos on multiple dates in 2018; and several more were seen and photographed in Union County in 2023 by George Andrews. Another photographed in Chatham County in July 2021 (and another or the same individual there in September) also came immediately after passage of a tropical storm. The species has also been documented for Cabarrus County in 2024. This is one of just roughly five "primarily coastal" dragonflies in NC (along with Seaside Dragonlet, Needham's Skimmer, Roseate Skimmer, and Marl Pennant). A photograph of one (and with five seen) in Cumberland County in 2013 extended the range inward by 15-20 miles in the southern part of the Coastal Plain. New middle Coastal Plain records were made in 2022 in Duplin and Robeson counties, filling in small gaps near the inner part of the range. Despite a considerable amount of recent odonate field work at lakes and ponds in the Sandhills region, the species has so far (2023) not yet been found in this multi-county region.
Abundance Common close to tidal/brackish waters; much less common -- rare to uncommon -- in areas well away (several dozen miles) from tidal waters. Very rare stray and a very local breeder into the southern and eastern Piedmont, mainly after tropical storms.
Flight A wide flight period during the warmer months, ranging from mid-May to mid-October.
Habitat This is one of the few dragonflies in the East that favors brackish water for breeding; habitats include brackish lakes, ponds, and ditches, but also still fresh water habitats also. The Piedmont records are from the margins of lakes and ponds.

See also Habitat Account for Coastal Freshwater and Low-Salinity Marshes
Behavior Adults are often seen in some numbers flying along ponds and ditches, frequently perching on twigs and vegetation in easy view of the observer.
Comments The white stigmas are very conspicuous and identify these dragonflies, even if the single large dark patch near the node on each wing isn't seen at first glance. Adults often obelisk. Thus, its behavior, unique markings, and occurrence in open habitats render it easy to identify and one of the favorites among odonate watchers. The photo record from Mecklenburg County in early June 2018 is likely attributable to the passage of Tropical Storm Alberto a few days earlier. To follow up on that record, other biologists there recorded the species on three later dates, including an excellent four seen on July 8 and another five on August 4; surprisingly these records came from several locations in the county! It would not be surprising if resident populations become established in the southern and eastern Piedmont in upcoming years, considering the recent inward spread into the western Coastal Plain (e.g., Robeson, Cumberland, and Edgecombe counties).
State Rank S5
State Status
Global Rank G5
Federal Status
Other Name
Species account update: LeGrand on 2024-07-13 14:51:10

Photo Gallery for Four-spotted Pennant   38 photos are available.
Only the most recent 30 are shown.
Other NC Galleries:    Jeff Pippen    Will Cook    Ted Wilcox
Photo 1 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Craven, 2023-09-15, Martin Marietta Park, New Bern
Photo 2 by: Kevin Metcalf

Comment: Mecklenburg, 2023-08-31, Last seen in same pond in 2018 (five years ago) - retention pond near shopping center in Steele Creek
Photo 3 by: Matt Spangler

Comment: Dare; OBL, 2023-08-06, Cape Hatteras--Salt Pond
Photo 4 by: Matt Spangler

Comment: Dare; OBL, 2023-08-06, Cape Hatteras--Salt Pond
Photo 5 by: George Andrews

Comment: Union, 2023-07-08, Cane Creek Park Lake, Union County, NC east marsh - Mid marsh, as far from permanent shoreline as possible
Photo 6 by: George Andrews

Comment: Union, 2023-07-05, Cane Creek Park Lake, Union County east marsh - County first, lifer for me
Photo 7 by: Mark Shields, Hunter Phillips

Comment: Bladen, 2023-06-03, Bay Tree Lake State Natural Area
Photo 8 by: Matt Spangler

Comment: Chatham, 2021-09-09, Jordan Lake--New Hope Creek (Chatham)
Photo 9 by: Matt Spangler, Mark Kosiewski

Comment: Chatham, 2021-07-10, Jordan Lake--New Hope Creek - momentarily perched on a snag at the end of the railroad spur; Chatham Co. record, probably blown in by recent tropical storm
Photo 10 by: Scott Pohlman

Comment: Tyrrell, 2019-07-10, Alligator River
Photo 11 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Camden, 2019-06-24, Indiantown Creek, from S. Indiantown Rd. bridge to confluence with North River and back, by kayak.
Photo 12 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Currituck, 2018-09-08, Historic Corolla Park, Corolla
Photo 13 by: Robert Gilson and Chris Talkington

Comment: Mecklenburg, 2018-08-04, Cowan's Ford Wildlife Refuge
Photo 14 by: Chris Talkington

Comment: Mecklenburg, 2018-07-08, Rivergate Shopping Center retention ponds. Charlotte NC
Photo 15 by: Mark Shields, Hunter Phillips

Comment: Dare; OBM, 2018-06-29, North Pond, Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge
Photo 16 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Beaufort, 2018-06-22, South Creek at Aurora Boating Access Area
Photo 17 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Chowan, 2018-06-09, Edenton National Fish Hatchery
Photo 18 by: Rob Van Epps

Comment: Mecklenburg, 2018-06-06, Lake Davidson off Jetton Street. Rare to find this species inland. First county record according to this website.
Photo 19 by: Rob Van Epps

Comment: Mecklenburg, 2018-06-06, Lake Davidson off Jetton Street
Photo 20 by: Mike Turner

Comment: Edgecombe, 2017-08-04, Tarboro; Etheridge Pond; 35.8699, -77.5279 - adult males
Photo 21 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Lenoir, 2017-08-01, Neuseway Nature Park, Kinston
Photo 22 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Columbus, 2016-07-22, Lake Waccamaw, southern end between dam and pier
Photo 23 by: Tracy S. Feldman

Comment: Scotland, 2016-07-16, St. Andrews University Campus at Lake Moore, iNaturalist record #185994863 - Male
Photo 24 by: Mike Turner

Comment: Dare, 2015-09-10, Cape Point, Buxton; freshwater pond at 35.235931, -75.529496 - adult males
Photo 25 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Pamlico, 2015-09-04, Upper Broad Creek at Lee
Photo 26 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Hyde, 2015-07-08, Mattamuskeet NWR
Photo 27 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Pender, 2015-06-22, salt marsh at Soundside Park, Surf City
Photo 28 by: Kristy Baker

Comment: Dare; Mainland, 2015-06-12, Roanoke Island Marsh Game Land - Several seen but not counted.
Photo 29 by: Curtis Smalling

Comment: Dare; Mainland, 2014-07-17, Point Peter Road, Alligator River NWR - males in roadside ditch
Photo 30 by: Conrad Wernett

Comment: Onslow, 2014-06-29, - Several individuals at retention pond