Somatochlora brevicincta    Robert, 1954

Quebec Emerald 

MN Status:
special concern
Federal Status:


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Minnesota range map
Map Interpretation
North American range map
Map Interpretation

  Basis for Listing

First discovered in Minnesota in 2005, Quebec Emeralds (Somatochlora brevicincta) are considered rare wherever they are found (Mead 2009). The main body of the global population is centered from Newfoundland and Labrador up to the southeastern edge of Hudson Bay in Quebec, with another dozen known populations in montane regions of British Columbia (Odonata Central database 2013). In Minnesota, there are only four confirmed sites for this species:  three in patterned fens in Lake County (Laurentian Uplands) and one in a patterned fen in Koochiching County (Agassiz Lowlands). This extends the known range for the Quebec Emerald east of British Columbia and west of Maine and the Canadian Maritimes.

Insufficient information is available at this time to assess population trends of the Quebec Emerald in Minnesota. However, given the documentation of only four populations in the state and the extreme rarity of this species across its North American range, the Quebec Emerald was designated a species of special concern in 2013.


Like all striped emeralds (Somatochlora spp.), the Quebec Emerald is dark bodied, with metallic green and bronze highlights on the thorax. Average length is just under 5 cm (2 in.). There is one long faint, dull yellow stripe on each side of the thorax and small whitish spots (or even a hint of abdominal rings) at the leading edge of the sides of each abdominal segment. Abdominal segments 3-7 are fuzzy and are widest at segment 5.  The male's claspers (upper terminal appendages) are distinctive, being curved and knuckle-like. Female cerci (terminal appendages) are 1½ times longer than segments 9 and 10 combined (Paulson 2009).


Quebec Emeralds breed in small pools, called 'flarks', in mossy patterned poor fens (Dunkle,2000). In Minnesota, all the larvae discovered have been living along water-filled game trails in poor fens, within open acid peatland systems.

  Biology / Life History

Males patrol at knee height above the fen. Both sexes feed at a height of about 2 m (6.6 ft.). Females oviposit in flarks and in water filled game trails in patterned fens (Dunkle 2000). The adult flight period is thought to be from late June to the end of August, but this species has been encountered so seldom across its range that this flight period should be considered an estimate. Quebec Emeralds are indiscriminate feeders of flying insects. Very little is known about this species' life cycles or habits.

  Conservation / Management

Minnesota’s population of Quebec Emeralds is completely dependent upon patterned peatlands, a habitat type that is quite rare in the state. There has been some recent activity hinting toward a renewed interest in peat mining in Minnesota. Conservation of the species requires protection of the hydrological conditions that create and maintain the fen habitat, which peat mining would obviously disrupt. Any activity that would alter hydrology and either drown or dry out the habitat needs to be prevented.   

It is assumed that global climate change will move the southern edge of the boreal biome to the north. This change could extirpate Quebec Emeralds from the state.

  Conservation Efforts in Minnesota

All four known Quebec Emerald populations in Minnesota are located in state Scientific and Natural Areas (SNAs), which afford them the highest level of protection. Three of the sites are in Sand Lake Peatland SNA (Lake County) and one in North Black River Peatland SNA (Koochiching County). 

The non-profit Minnesota Dragonfly Society is looking for the Quebec Emerald (among many other species of Odonata) throughout Minnesota through surveys and educational workshops. These surveys are conducted by volunteers and are supported through an Enbridge Ecofootprint Grant through 2018.


Kurt Mead, (MNDNR), 2018

(Note: all content ©MNDNR)

  References and Additional Information

Abbott, J. C. 2006-2017. Odonata Central: An online resource for the distribution and identification of Odonata [web application]. <>. Accessed 21 March 2017.

Abbott, J. C. 2006. Somatochlora brevicincta. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species [web application]. Version 2013.1. IUCN, Cambridge, United Kingdom. <>. Accessed 30 June 2013.

Cannings, R. A., L. R. Ramsay, S. G. Cannings, and C. R. Copley. 2008. The dragonflies (Insecta: Odonata) of northern British Columbia: field surveys, collections, development and public education, 2000-2005. Living Landscapes Project, Royal British Columbia Museum and British Columbia Conservation Data Centre, Victoria. 65 pp.

Dunkle, S. 2000. Dragonflies through binoculars: a field guide to dragonflies of North America. Oxford University Press, New York, New York. 266 pp.

Legler, K., D. Legler, and D. Westover. 2013. Dragonflies of Wisconsin-Edition 5.1, copyright Karl Legler, self-published.

Mead, K. 2003. Dragonflies of the North Woods. Kollath-Stensaas Publishing, Duluth, Minnesota. 203 pp.

Mead, K. 2009. Dragonflies of the North Woods (North Woods naturalist series). Second edition. Kollath-Stensaas Publishing, Duluth, Minnesota. 200 pp.

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. 2003. Field guide to the native plant communities of Minnesota: the Laurentian mixed forest province. Ecological Land Classification Program, Minnesota County Biological Survey, and Natural Heritage and Nongame Research Program. Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, St. Paul, Minnesota. 352 pp.

NatureServe. 2009. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. <>. Accessed 28 June 2009.

Paulson, D. 2009. Dragonflies and damselflies of the west (Princeton field guides). Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey. 536 pp.

Walker, E. M., and P. S. Corbet. 1975. 1998 reprint. The Odonata of Canada and Alaska - Volume 3. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

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