Project Results to Date

Common whitetail male dragonfly © Joy Marzolf, Mass Audubon
Common whitetail male dragonfly © Joy Marzolf, Mass Audubon


Over the course of this monitoring project, 147 species of odonates have been recorded at Mass Audubon wildlife sanctuaries. This compares with 166 species recorded in Massachusetts and 180+ in all of New England.

  • Wachusett Meadow, Rutland Brook, and Arcadia have recorded the greatest species richness (75, 73, and 66 respectively).
  • 22 of the 36 species listed by the Massachusetts Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program as endangered, threatened, or of special concern have been recorded on Mass Audubon sanctuaries.
  • Sanctuaries harboring the most state listed species are (Arcadia (6), Lake Wampanoag (5), Canoe Meadows (5), Ashumet Holly (4), and Pierpont Meadow (3).
  • The Bar-winged Skimmer (Libellula axilena), recorded at Oak Knoll Wildlife Sanctuary in Attleboro was only the third time this species was observed in Massachusetts and likely the first breeding record in the Commonwealth.

Widespread Species

We have examined 51 wildlife sanctuaries thus far. Some species are very widespread throughout our sanctuary system.

Genus species

Common Name

# sanctuaries

% occurrence

Anax junius Green Darner 47 92%
Sympetrum rubicundulum/internum Ruby/Cherry-faced Meadowhawk 47 92%
Libellula pulchella Twelve-spotted Skimmer 45 88%
Pachydiplax longipennis Blue Dasher 45 88%
Ischnura verticalis Eastern Forktail 44 86%
Lestes rectangularis Slender Spreadwing 41 82%
Erythemis simplicicollis Common Pondhawk 40 82%
Libellula incesta Slaty Skimmer 39 77%
Sympetrum vicinum Autumn Meadowhawk 39 77%

Comparison of our odonate lists with county lists

  • 109 of the 126 species on the Worcester County checklist have been observed in our Worcester county wildlife sanctuaries.
  • We have recorded more species at our Nantucket County wildlife sanctuaries than are currently on the county list, suggesting that our data can be used to update that list.
  • Other counties in which our wildlife sanctuaries contain over 70% of the species in the county list are Hampshire and Barnstable counties.

Under-represented Species

Of the 147 species located on Mass Audubon wildlife sanctuaries, 63% are considered generalists, meaning they can be found near many different types of aquatic habitats. Mass Audubon sanctuaries also contain a good representation of the species of two specialized habitats: bogs and coastal plain ponds.

Less well represented at our sanctuaries are the species that prefer flowing waters such as rivers and streams. These include a number of the emeralds and clubtails. A high percentage of species associated with flowing waters are considered endangered, threatened, or of special concern, so it’s not surprising that we have recorded a smaller percentage of this group.

Habitat Preferences of All MA Odonate Species vs. Species Found at Our Sanctuaries

These results points to the particular importance of protecting rivers and cold water stream habitats, which harbor these often rare odonates.

Preferred Habitat

All MA Species

At Sanctuaries

Bogs 13 13
Coastal Plain Ponds 8 8
Cold Ponds 2 1
Estuaries 2 2
General 105 94
Rivers 10 7
Streams 28 22