Minnesota Dragonfly

American Emerald

Cordulia shurtleffi

The American Emerald is a medium sized dark dragonfly with minimal marking and metallic green eyes. Although they have no thoracic stripes the thorax is a mix of dark brown and metallic green. This is one of the more common Emerald species


Field Marks
  • Average adult size is approximately 1.9 inches
  • Face is brown below and darker with a green tint on the frons
  • Bright metallic green eyes
  • Thorax is brown mixed with metallic green. No yellow side stripe
  • Dark abdomen with a thin pale ring separating segments 2 and 3
  • Abdomen widens on segments 5 to 8 making it look slightly clubbed
  • Cerci curve slightly outward at the end
  • Epiproct has a pair of upward spikes near the tip
  • Cross vein in the forewing triangle dividing it in half

Click on photos above for a close-up view.

Field Marks
  • Females are colored similar to males
  • Abdomen does not taper near the thorax as much as in males
  • Subgenital plates about half the length of segment nine
  • Short terminal appendages

Click on photos above for a close-up view.

Natural History


Males patrol over open water or along the shoreline, alternating between flight and hovering and frequently changing the area patrolled. More active when temps are cooler. Often found early in the summer mixed in with Baskettails in feeding swarms. When not in flight they will hang vertically from sticks or perch horizontally on leaves


Forested and boggy lakes and ponds, beaver ponds, fens and marshes


Mating lasts a while and usually takes place partially in flight. Females lay eggs by flying fast in a straight line and tapping their abdomen against the water every few feet, often among vegetation

Range Maps

Click on the icons above for this species' range maps

Click here for county and state checklists from Odonata Central.

Range maps and checklists courtesy of Odonata Central. Copyright © 2016 OdonataCentral. All Rights Reserved. Abbott, J.C. 2006-2018. OdonataCentral: An online resource for the distribution and identification of Odonata. Available at www.odonatacentral.org.