Southern Sprite

Nehalennia integricollis Calvert, 1913

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Insecta (Insects)
Coenagrionidae (Pond Damsels)
State Protection
Special Concern
Listed as Special Concern by New York State: at risk of becoming Threatened; not listed as Endangered or Threatened, but concern exists for its continued welfare in New York; NYS DEC may promulgate regulations as to the taking, importation, transportation, or possession as it deems necessary.
Federal Protection
Not Listed
State Conservation Status Rank
Critically Imperiled in New York - Especially vulnerable to disappearing from New York due to extreme rarity or other factors; typically 5 or fewer populations or locations in New York, very few individuals, very restricted range, very few remaining acres (or miles of stream), and/or very steep declines.
Global Conservation Status Rank
Secure globally - Common in the world; widespread and abundant (but may be rare in some parts of its range).


Did you know?

Southern Sprites measure about an inch long and are one of the tiniest odonates in New York (Lam 2004).

State Ranking Justification

In New York, there are at least five older records for N. integricollis in Suffolk county (Donnelly 1999), and two extant locations in Suffolk county (1995 and 2005) (New York Natural Heritage Program 2010). Despite increased survey efforts on Long Island in recent years for the New York Dragonfly and Damselfly Survey (2005-2009), one new location has been documented during those years.

Short-term Trends

No estimation of population size for this species has been made based on observations from 1995 and 2005 in Suffolk county (New York Natural Heritage 2010). There are observations made prior to this at five other locations in Suffolk county (Donnelly 1999), but information prior to the late 1990s is limited (Donnelly 2004). Therefore, any new location information on Southern Sprite in New York may reflect heightened interest in surveying for this species rather than a population increase or a range expansion (NYS DEC 2005).

Long-term Trends

Recent observations have been noted in Suffolk county in 1995 and 2005. Long-term information regarding population size is not available prior to the late 1990s (New York Natural Heritage Program 2010). Since observations are fairly recent, and the full extent and size of the populations have not been determined, long-term trends are unclear.

Conservation and Management


Any activity which might lead to water contamination or the alteration of natural hydrology could impact Southern Sprite populations (NYS DEC 2005). Such threats might include roadway and agricultural run-off, ditching and filling, eutrophication, changes in dissolved oxygen content, and development near their habitats (NYS DEC 2005). Groundwater withdrawal is a potential threat in lentic habitats, as are invasive plant species replacing native plants required for oviposition (New York Natural Heritage Program 2010). Both emergence rates and/or species ranges may shift for odonate species as a result of climate change (Kalkman et al. 2008).

Conservation Strategies and Management Practices

Any efforts to reduce roadway and agricultural run-off, eutrophication, development of upland borders and resulting increased groundwater withdrawal, and ditching and filling activities should be considered when managing for this species (NYS DEC 2005).

Research Needs

Further research is needed to define the distribution and population size of the Southern Sprite. In addition, research is required to understand the habitat requirements and threats to this species, and to create appropriate management guidelines for its persistence in known locations (NYS DEC 2005).



In the northeast, Southern Sprites are found on the coastal plain at grassy ponds, lakes, marshes, and bogs (Lam 2004, Bangma & Barlow 2010). In New York, known habitats are coastal plain ponds on Long Island (New York Natural Heritage Program 2010).

Associated Ecological Communities

  • Coastal plain Atlantic white cedar swamp (guide)
    A swamp that occurs on organic soils along streams and in poorly drained depressions of the coastal plain. Atlantic white cedar makes up over 50% of the canopy cover. In mixed stands in New York, red maple is the codominant tree.
  • Coastal plain pond (guide)
    The aquatic community of the permanently flooded portion of a coastal plain pond with seasonally, and annually fluctuating water levels. These are shallow, groundwater-fed ponds that occur in kettle-holes or shallow depressions in the outwash plains south of the terminal moraines of Long Island, and New England. A series of coastal plain ponds are often hydrologically connected, either by groundwater, or sometimes by surface flow in a small coastal plain stream.
  • Pine barrens shrub swamp (guide)
    A shrub-dominated wetland that occurs in shallow depressions in the coastal plain, often as the transition zone between a coastal plain pond shore and either pitch pine-scrub oak barrens or pitch pine-oak forest.

Associated Species

  • Lilypad Forktail (Ischnura kellicotti)
  • Blue Corporal (Ladona deplanata)


New York State Distribution

In New York, at the northern tip of its range, there are at least five older records for N. integricollis in Suffolk county (Donnelly 1999), and two extant locations in Suffolk county (1995 and 2005) (New York Natural Heritage Program 2010). The species appears to be restricted to Long Island with a single documentation in Suffolk county during the increased statewide survey effort for odonates during the New York Dragonfly and Damselfly Survey.

Global Distribution

The species' known range includes Texas and Oklahoma eastward across the southern United States, then northward along the Atlantic coast to New Hampshire (Donnelly 2004b, Abbott 2010).

Best Places to See

  • Cedar Pond (Suffolk County)
  • Otis Pike Preserve (Suffolk County)

Identification Comments

Identifying Characteristics

Male Southern Sprites are metallic green on top of their thorax and a dark, iridescent green on the top of their abdomen. The exceptions are abdominal segments 9 and 10, which are mostly blue, with a dark, "fang-like" pattern on segment 9. They are 0.8-1 inch long and are the smallest sprites in the northeast, on average (Lam 2004). Females are also metallic green on top, with yellow or blue thoracic sides, and pale blue on the top of abdominal segment 10. The rear edge of the prothorax is smoothly rounded and lacks any lobes.

Best Time to See

New York records indicate that the species may be observed on Long Island between June 27 and July 27 (Donnelly 1999, New York Natural Heritage Program 2010). In New Jersey, they have been documented from June 8 through August 11 (Bangma & Barlow 2010).

  • Present
  • Reproducing

The time of year you would expect to find Southern Sprite present and reproducing in New York.

Similar Species

  • Sphagnum Sprite (Nehalennia gracilis)
    Abdominal segments 9 and 10 are blue, and 8 is blue with a dark base for male Sphagnum Sprites,while the female has segments 8-10 blue with 8 & 9 showing dark spots at the segment bases. In Southern Sprites,segment 8 is dark above and segments 8 and 9 are dark above on the female. Female Sphagnum Sprites have a rear edge of the prothorax with two wide lobes, while the female Southern Sprite has a smooth, rounded prothorax without lobes.
  • Sedge Sprite (Nehalennia irene)
    Abdominal segments 8 and 9 of the Sedge Sprite are mostly blue, while segment 8 is dark above in male Southern Sprites and segments 8 and 9 are dark above on the female. The female Sedge Sprite has three distinct lobes on the rear edge of the prothorax, while the female Southern Sprite has a smooth, rounded prothorax without lobes.


Southern Sprite
Nehalennia integricollis Calvert, 1913

  • Kingdom Animalia
    • Phylum Arthropoda (Mandibulates)
      • Class Insecta (Insects)
        • Order Odonata (Dragonflies and Damselflies)
          • Family Coenagrionidae (Pond Damsels)

Additional Resources


Abbott, J.C. 2007. Last updated 2011. OdonataCentral: An online resource for the distribution and identification of Odonata. Texas Natural Science Center, The University of Texas, Austin, Texas. Available at:

Bangma J. and Barlow A. 2010. NJODES; The dragonflies and damselflies of New Jersey.<>.

Donnelly, T. W. 1992. The odonata of New York State. Bulletin of American Odonatology. 1(1):1-27.

Donnelly, T.W. 1999. The dragonflies and damselflies of New York. Prepared for the 1999 International Congress of Odonatology and First Symposium of the Worldwide Dragonfly Association. July 11-16, 1999. Colgate University, Hamilton, New York. 39 pp.

Donnelly, T.W. 2004. The Odonata of New York State. Unpublished data. Binghamton, NY.

Donnelly, T.W. 2004b. Distribution of North American Odonata. Part II: Macromiidae, Corduliidae and Libellulidae. Bulletin of American Odonatology 8(1): 1-32.

Kalkman, V. J., V. Clausnitzer, K. B. Dijkstra, A. G. Orr, D. R. Paulson, and J. van Tol. 2008. Global diversity of dragonflies (Odonata) in freshwater. Hydrobiologia 595:351-363.

Lam, E. 2004. Damselflies of the northeast: A guide to the species of eastern Canada and the northeastern United States. Biodiversity Books, Forest Hills, New York. 96 pp.

New York Natural Heritage Program. 2010. Biotics database. New York Natural Heritage Program. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Albany, NY.

New York Natural Heritage Program. 2023. New York Natural Heritage Program Databases. Albany, NY.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Fish, Wildlife, and Marine Resources. 2006. New York State Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy. Albany, NY: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Nikula, B., J.L. Loose, and M.R. Burne. 2003. A field guide to the dragonflies and damselflies of Massachusetts. Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, Westborough, MA. 197 pp.


About This Guide

Information for this guide was last updated on: January 26, 2011

Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2023. Online Conservation Guide for Nehalennia integricollis. Available from: Accessed December 5, 2023.