Dragonflies may be the most acrobatic fliers in the insect world, and stygian shadowdragons are no exception. Late in the twilight, they soar high above dark waters, swooping down to capture mosquitoes and other insect prey. Living near lakes and rivers in the eastern U.S. and Canada, stygian shadowdragons start out life in the water. Females lay their eggs and larvae develop there, breathing through internal gills.

For now, their numbers appear stable in some parts of their range, but in other areas they have completely disappeared. In coming years, climate change could have many detrimental effects on remaining populations. Much remains to be learned about how dragonfly larvae manage in northeastern rivers and lakes, and if those waters warm dramatically, the larvae may not be able to survive. Depending on how the waters are affected by heat, drought and other factors such as water pollution, researchers have estimated that more than 50 percent of this dragonfly species’ preferred river habitat could be lost as the climate shifts. 

Stygian shadowdragon
Neurocordulia yamaskanensis
1.8–2.2 inches (Up to 5.6 cm)
Critically imperiled (mississippi; other states, u.s.) apparently secure (ontario, canada)
Ecological Role
AMNH Specimen Number
AMNH_IZC 00329548
Ontario, Canada