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 Major Groups | Insecta (insects) | Odonata (dragonflies, damselflies) | Cordulephyidae


Major Group: Insecta
Order: Odonata
Family: Cordulephyidae
Genus: Cordulephya
This family is represented in Australia by a single genus, Cordulephya.

Descriptive Features:

  • prementum ladle-shaped, short, narrow at base, wide at distal end
  • 12-14 pairs of premental setae, 9-11 primary and generally 3 secondary
  • labial palps with 4 short inner and 4 very long digitate outer dentations, bearing short setae
  • generally 7 palpal setae
  • no middorsal abdominal spines
  • short lateral spines on abdominal segments 7-9
  • Total length: 14.0 - 17.0 mm
  • Cordulephya pygmaea 

    Cordulephya pygmaea male

    Cordulephya pygmaea 

    Cordulephya pygmaea male

    Taxonomic Checklist: Species
    Cordulephya bidens Sjöstedt, 1917
    Cordulephya divergens Tillyard, 1917
    Cordulephya montana Tillyard, 1911
    Cordulephya pygmaea Selys, 1870

    Distribution: E NSW, Vic, SE Qld

    Sensitivity Rating: SIGNAL grade 5

    Functional Feeding Group: predators


    Murray River at Euston NSW

    Ecology: Adults are commonly known as 'shutwings'.
    Instream habitat: Cordulephya larvae inhabit creeks, streams and rivers at high and low altitudes. They are found in pools and river sections with accumulated silt and detritus, often amongst rocks. Cordulephya species can be rare, but when found are numerous. Cordulephya pygmaea is the more commonly collected species. Adults may be seen resting on rocks protruding from or surrounding the water.
    Feeding ecology: Larvae are predators.
    Habit: Cordulephya adults are the only dragonflies known to fold their wings along the body in a similar habit to that of damselflies.
    Life history: Females generally lay their eggs from March to April in vegetation fringed pools and slackwaters of creeks and streams. Cordulephya larvae may be collected from September to February. When emerging, the larva crawls up the bank to climb grass or reed stems near by, often travelling 30 cm or more up the stem after climbing a steep or overhanging bank. The imago, which has a peculiar colouration, flies away into the bush, generally settling high on the branches or trunks of trees. Cordulephya species generally emerge in February to June, but are most abundant during March and April. However, Cordulephya pygmaea seems to be ‘out-of-step’ by laying eggs in January, having final instar larvae in November and the imago emerge in December and January.


    Information Sources: Hawking & Theischinger 1999, Houston 1988, Tillyard 1911, Theischinger 2007, Theischinger & Hawking 2006
    Key to Species: Theischinger & Endersby 2009
    Hawking & Theischinger 1999 (NSW)