Minnesota Dragonfly

Spiny Baskettail

Epitheca spinigera

The Spiny Baskettail is a drab looking Emerald that is mostly dark with red and grey eyes that turn green or blue with maturity and yellow spots running down the abdomen. It is difficult to distinguish between most species of Baskettails unless you have the specimen in hand


Field Marks
  • Average adult size is approximately from 1.7 to 1.9 inches
  • Face yellow to tan with a black 'T' spot on the top of the frons
  • Eyes are red on top and grey on the bottom turning green or blue with maturity
  • Thorax is brown and black with a couple of small yellow spots located low on each side
  • Black abdomen with a yellowish line separating the segments and a thicker yellowish line on both sides of the top of segments 3 to 8
  • Minimal dark patches on the base of the hindwing
  • Dark terminal appendages with a downward pointing spike or spine

Click on photos above for a close-up view.

Field Marks
  • Female is colored similarly to the male
  • Females eyes turn green at maturity where males usually turn more blue
  • Females terminal appendages are longer than segments 9 and 10 combined
  • Subgenital plates are more rounded than other Baskettail species. They look more like a 'U" compared to the others that look more like a 'V'

Click on photos above for a close-up view.

Similar Species

Common Baskettail: The Spiny Baskettail and the Common Baskettail are similarly looking dark Emeralds that are roughly the same size. Spiny Baskettails have little to no dark markings at the base of their hindwings. In comparison many Common Baskettails have a prominent wing patch at the base of the hind wing which makes it easy to distinguish them from Spiny Baskettails. Not all Common Baskettail have these wings patches so it is necessary to take a closer look at specimens without. Examining the claspers on males and subgenital plates on females will help to determine the species

Click on the photo to see side by side comparisons of the two species.

Beaverpond Baskettail : The Spiny Baskettail and the Beaverpond Baskettail are similarly looking dark Emeralds that are roughly the same size. Distinguishing between the males of these species requires a close look at the claspers and the top of the frons. Females can be easier to identify as Spiny Baskettails have mostly clear wings where Beaverpond Baskettail females typically get brown veining throughout the wings at maturity

Click on the photo to see side by side comparisons of the two species.

Natural History


Spiny Baskettails often emerge in mass with hundreds or perhaps thousands emerging and perching on trees and vegetation. They often feed in large swarms


Prefer slow moving acidic water such as found in marshy lakes, ponds and slow streams


Females produce eggs which accumulate on the end of their abdomen, like a tiny basket, while the female looks for a suitable location to oviposit. She will look for a location with aquatic vegetation, often floating on the water, where she will dip her abdomen in and release the 'basket' of eggs which become short egg strings in the water. Often more than one female will oviposit in the same location

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.