Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

Guide to New Zealand's freshwater invertebrates

Red damselfly ( Coenagrionidae : Xanthocnemis )

Diagnostic features

Xanthocnemis damselfly larvae are easily distinguished by the pointed tail gills with long hairs near the tip.

Typical habitats

Xanthocnemis larvae occur in stony and weedy streams and ponds throughout New Zealand. The adults are the distinctive red damselflies often seen flying amongst stream-side vegetation.


They are predators, often waiting for unsuspecting invertebrate prey swimming or crawling though weed beds.

Indicator value

Xanthocnemis are not useful indicators of water quality as they are common in both polluted and unpolluted waters. They have tolerance values of 5 (hard bottom sites) and 1.2 (soft bottom sites).