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Species Hierarchy 
Common name: DRAGONFLY - WIDOW


Species Info:

This lifeform is widespread in North America. This lifeform is found in Mexico.

Widow Dragonfly (Libellula luctuosa)is found from east Canada to California and south to Georgia. This is a large species with a wingspan often reaching over nine centimeters. The yellow stripes on the body and wings that are darkened on the half near the body help identify this dragonfly.

Libellula genus of dragonflies contains many large and beautiful species.  The genus is very common near ponds in North America and is also found in the Old World.  There are 18 species found in North America in the genus Libellula when you exclude the three species in the Ladona genus and the two species in the Plathemis genus, previously part of the Libellula group.

Skimmer (Libellulinae) dragonflies are well-represented in North America with 128 known species.  Many of the best known North American species of dragonflies are in this subfamily.

Skimmers, emeralds, and cruisers (Family Libellulidae) are the most abundant dragonflies in the United States. The bodies are usually colored, and the wings frequently have spots or patterns. Some species in this family are sexually dimorphic in that the females and the males are differently patterned. There are about 188 species in North America typically divided into three subfamilies: Macromiinae(10 species), Corduliiinae(50 species) and Libellulinae(128 species).

Dragonflies and Damselflies (Order Odonata) are a very ancient group of insects with over five thousand species known. The North American area contains about 450 of these insects. These insects are capable flyers and catch their prey (usually smaller insects) while in flight. The larvae live in water and are also predators.

Since dragonflies (both adults and larvae) eat many mosquitoes, they are among the most beneficial of all insects. Spraying swamps several times a year with a broad pesticide to kill all insects often destroys the dragonfly species. Their life cycles are typically many months or a year. On the other hand, many mosquitoes have short life cycles. With a natural predator eliminated, the mosquitoes can become even more abundant.

Many species in this family are brilliantly colored when alive,  but these colors fade when specimens are placed in mounted collections.

Insects (Class Insecta) are the most successful animals on Earth if success is measured by the number of species or the total number of living organisms. This class contains more than a million species, of which North America has approximately 100,000.

Insects have an exoskeleton. The body is divided into three parts. The foremost part, the head, usually bears two antennae. The middle part, the thorax, has six legs and usually four wings. The last part, the abdomen, is used for breathing and reproduction.

Although different taxonomists divide the insects differently, about thirty-five different orders are included in most of the systems.

The following abbreviated list identifies some common orders of the many different orders of insects discussed herein:

   Odonata:      Dragon and Damsel Flies
   Orthoptera:   Grasshoppers and Mantids
   Homoptera:    Cicadas and Misc. Hoppers
   Diptera:      Flies and Mosquitoes
   Hymenoptera:  Ants, Wasps, and Bees
   Lepidoptera:  Butterflies and Moths
   Coleoptera:   Beetles

Jointed Legged Animals (Phylum Arthropoda) make up the largest phylum. There are probably more than one million different species of arthropods known to science. It is also the most successful animal phylum in terms of the total number of living organisms.

Butterflies, beetles, grasshoppers, various insects, spiders, and crabs are well-known arthropods.

The phylum is usually broken into the following five main classes:

   Arachnida:      Spiders and Scorpions
   Crustacea:      Crabs and Crayfish
   Chilopoda:      Centipedes
   Diplopoda:      Millipedes
   Insecta:        Insects

There are several other "rare" classes in the arthropods that should be mentioned. A more formal list is as follows:

   Sub Phylum Chelicerata

     C. Arachnida:      Spiders and scorpions
     C. Pycnogonida:    Sea spiders (500 species)
     C. Merostomata:    Mostly fossil species

   Sub Phylum Mandibulata

     C. Crustacea:      Crabs and crayfish
   Myriapod Group

     C. Chilopoda:      Centipedes
     C. Diplopoda:      Millipedes
     C. Pauropoda:      Tiny millipede-like
     C. Symphyla:       Garden centipedes

   Insect Group

     C. Insecta:        Insects

The above list does not include some extinct classes of Arthropods such as the Trilobites.

Animal Kingdom contains numerous organisms that feed on other animals or plants. Included in the animal kingdom are the lower marine invertebrates such as sponges and corals, the jointed legged animals such as insects and spiders, and the backboned animals such as fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals.


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