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Taxonomic group

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

  • Hard bottom: 5
  • Soft bottom: 1.2

The tolerance values (ranging from 0 to 10) give an indication of which are the sensitive taxa (values of 8 or more) and which are the tolerant taxa (values of 3 or less). For more information see: Indicator species

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).