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Celithemis amanda

What do they look like?

Amanda's pennants are considered a smaller dragonfly species. Adults are 27 to 31 mm long including their abdomen, which is 18 to 22 mm long. Their wingspan is about 46 to 52 mm. Their body can be divided into three sections: head, thorax, and abdomen. Their wings and legs attach to the thorax and the abdomen is long and skinny. Their face is yellow and the back of their head is brown. The front of their thorax is brown, with a stripe of black down the middle. Aside from that, males and females have different coloring. Males have red eyes and their thorax is reddish-brown, with black markings. Their abdomen is black, with red-orange triangles or circles going down the back and growing smaller toward the end. Their legs are black in young males and reddish in older males. Females have reddish-brown eyes and their face is green, yellow, or tan. There is a thick black stripe at the front of their thorax, with brown on the edges, and the sides are yellow with a few brown or black markings. Their abdomen is black, with some yellow segments and large yellow spots on the back toward the end. Their legs are black, with sections of yellow. Amanda's pennants have large clear wings, with dark patches on the inside, closest to the body. Males have large dark brown hind wing patches, edged in orange, with bright red veins. Females have orange hind wing patches with brown markings. Nymphs are greenish, with brown patterns. Dragonfly nymphs have large lower lips, called labia, which are used to catch prey. In this species, the labia are spoon shaped, with large palps that surround prey. (Beaton, 2007; Needham, et al., 2000; Paulson, 2011)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes colored or patterned differently
  • Range length
    27 to 31 mm
    1.06 to 1.22 in
  • Range wingspan
    46 to 52 mm
    1.81 to 2.05 in

Where do they live?

Amanda's pennants (Celithemis amanda) are a dragonfly species found in the southeastern United States. Their range stretches along the coastline as far west as Texas, south to Florida, and north to North Carolina. (Needham, et al., 2000; Paulson, 2011)

What kind of habitat do they need?

Nymphs are aquatic and live in the weeds of shallow ponds and sandbars. Adults live on land and are usually found near the bodies of water from which they emerged. Amanda's pennants tend to prefer heavily vegetated areas with tall grass. Adults are often found perching on plant stems and grasses, females are usually found farther from water, while males are usually found closer. They may also be found in agricultural fields and prairies or meadows, with a source of water such as a pond or lake nearby. (Neal and Whitcomb, 1972; Needham, et al., 2000; Paulson, 2011)

  • Aquatic Biomes
  • lakes and ponds

How do they grow?

Amanda's pennants go through incomplete metamorphosis, which includes egg, nymph, and adult stages. This species is active from April to November. Eggs hatch in the water and a prolarva comes out. The prolarva looks nothing like the actual larva and only lasts a few minutes before it molts into the larva, also called a nymph. In general, dragonfly nymphs go through about 12 stages called instars; the exact number for this species is unknown. At the end of their final instar, the nymphs climb out from the water just a few inches, often on rocks or plants. The larval skin splits, and the teneral stage begins. Tenerals are adults that are not yet able to mate. The wings fill and the body expands as the teneral rests and waits. The tenerals then leave the water and fly onto land. After a period of time, the skin hardens and the color pattern becomes permanent as the teneral develops into an adult. (Needham, et al., 2000; Paulson, 2011)

How do they reproduce?

While there is little information about the mating habits of Amanda's pennants, it is likely their mating habits are similar to most dragonfly species. Before mating, male dragonflies transfer sperm from an opening near the end of their abdomen to another area near the front of their abdomen. Once this is done, males fly around in search of mates and grab females with their legs. The male holds onto the female with the end of his abdomen, clasping the back of her head. They are able to fly like this together. The female swings her abdomen forward, to connect her genitals with the place where the sperm is now stored. Mating takes place in flight or while perched on vegetation. Both male and female dragonflies are able to mate many times with many different mates during their lives. Older dragonflies often have marks from previous matings such as scratches on females' eyes from being held by males. (Abbott, 2005; Paulson, 2011)

After mating, pairs of Amanda's pennants stay together and usually lay eggs with the male still grasping the female, although sometimes females separate and lay eggs on their own. They fly in search of a place to lay the eggs, usually along shorelines. Since dragonflies can mate many times in their lives, females can lay many different batches of eggs from different matings. (Paulson, 2011)

  • How often does reproduction occur?
    Amanda's pennants can mate many times throughout their life.
  • Breeding season
    This species mates during the summer.

Adult Amanda's pennants provide nutrients in the eggs for their offspring to grow and develop. They also lay their eggs in a pond or other shallow water, so the nymphs will survive after hatching. Otherwise, they provide no more parental care. (Paulson, 2011)

  • Parental Investment
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female

How long do they live?

Amanda's pennants likely live for about a month after reaching adulthood. (Paulson, 2011)

  • Average lifespan
    Status: wild
    1 months

How do they behave?

Amanda's pennant nymphs are active, often searching for aquatic prey in the weeds where they live. They are good climbers, but poor swimmers, and are therefore often found on vegetation. Dragonfly nymphs have gills in their rectum, and can shoot water to propel themselves forward for underwater movement. Adults are active during the day, while spending the night in vegetation. Dragonflies are strong fliers and are able to move all four wings independently, allowing them to hover, move forward or backward, change speeds, and turn on a dime. However, they can be tossed by strong winds and severe weather. Pennants get their common name because they perch on vegetation and wave in the air similar to a pennant. They perch horizontally, with their abdomen held up. Amanda's pennants usually perch low on plants, just above water level. In many related dragonfly species males are territorial; this is likely true for male Amanda's pennants as well. Males make short, slow flights, searching for other males that may enter their territory. (Neal and Whitcomb, 1972; Needham, et al., 2000; Paulson, 2011)

Home Range

There is currently no information available regarding the home range size of Amanda's pennants.

How do they communicate with each other?

Dragonflies have very strong vision, with large eyes that have a wide sight range. They are good at detecting movement, which is useful when hunting during flight, but cannot see well below or above themselves. They can also see UV light. Vision is used to find mates, and touch is used during mating, as the male holds onto the female by the head with his abdomen throughout mating. Mating pairs of Amanda's pennants also stay connected while they lay eggs. (Paulson, 2011; Paulson, 2011)

  • Perception Channels
  • visual
  • ultraviolet

What do they eat?

Amanda's pennants are predators, feeding on insects. Adults tend to perch on vegetation and wait for prey to fly past and then chase after it. Nymphs quickly shoot out their large lower lip to grab prey such as aquatic insects, other dragonfly and damselfly nymphs, and other aquatic organisms. (Paulson, 2011)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects

What eats them and how do they avoid being eaten?

Predators of adult Amanda's pennants include birds, spiders, robber flies, ants, and other dragonflies. Dragonflies are more vulnerable to predators in their teneral stage, when they have just developed from a nymph into an adult, and are still weak and often stay on land for a period of time before taking their first flight. Frogs and freshwater fish can prey on adults that are laying eggs in the water. Predators of nymphs include water beetles, fish, aquatic birds, and other dragonfly and damselfly nymphs. The green-brown coloration on nymphs acts as camouflage by blending in with the surrounding vegetation. (Needham, et al., 2000; Paulson, 2011)

  • These animal colors help protect them
  • cryptic

What roles do they have in the ecosystem?

Adult Amanda's pennants are significant predators of insects, while nymphs are predators of aquatic organisms. This species is also prey to a large variety of other organisms including birds, fish, and other dragonflies. (Paulson, 2011)

Do they cause problems?

There are no known negative effects of Amanda's pennants on humans.

How do they interact with us?

There are no known positive effects of Amanda's pennants on humans.

Are they endangered?

Amanda's pennants are not an endangered species.


Angela Miner (author), Animal Diversity Web Staff, Leila Siciliano Martina (editor), Animal Diversity Web Staff.


Abbott, J. 2005. Dragonflies and Damselflies of Texas and the South-Central United States. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Beaton, G. 2007. Dragonflies and Damselflies of Georgia and the Southeast. Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press.

Neal, T., W. Whitcomb. 1972. Odonata in the Florida Soybean Agroecosystem. The Florida Entomologist, 55/2: 107-114.

Needham, J., M. Westfall, Jr., M. May. 2000. Dragonflies of North America. Gainesville, Florida: Scientific Publishers, Inc.

Paulson, D. 2011. Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

University of Michigan Museum of ZoologyNational Science Foundation

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Miner, A. 2014. "Celithemis amanda" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed July 23, 2014 at

BioKIDS is sponsored in part by the Interagency Education Research Initiative. It is a partnership of the University of Michigan School of Education, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and the Detroit Public Schools. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DRL-0628151.
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