California Damselflies
aka
California Zygoptera

This page links to photos and information about Damselflies (Zygoptera), but not Dragonflies (Anisoptera)
Return to the front page of California Dragonflies/Odonata

Page #s refer to pages in Common Dragonflies of California (revised 2009 edition)



Sketch of a damselfly body
showing the body parts ...pg. 76
by Tim Manolis

DAMSELFLIES - Zygoptera:

Pages 76-111
size - slender-bodied, generally smaller and more frail than dragonflies. Most have an eyespot on the back of each eye.
wings - when perched, all four wings are usually held together alongside or sail-like over the abdomen.
eyes - set far apart giving hammer-headed appearance.
behaviors - weak fliers, usually found not too far from water. All damselflies lay their eggs directly into vegetation.
males - a bump (genitalia) under their 2nd abdominal segment; four terminal abdominal appendages.
females - a wide ovipositor on the lower end of their abdomen; only two terminal abdominal appendages.
California - at least 41 species recorded within the state, representing 3 of the 5 American damselfly families.

Use the names below as links if you already know the family of the damselfly you wish to access, or scroll down to choose from the photo links.
1. Pond Damsels - Coenagrionidae 2. Spreadwings - Lestidae 3. Broad-winged Damsels Calopterygidae

Family: POND DAMSELS - Coenagrionidae



pages 77-99

Family: POND DAMSELS - Coenagrionidae


8 CA genera, totaling 31 species:
sizes: very small to medium; lengths: 20 - 50 mm
males: usually blue and black, a few red, yellow, violet; varying degrees of color on abdomens; clear wings held alongside or over abdomen when perched, small stigmas
females: abdomen more cylindrical; most tan but some more colorful; ovipositors under segments 8-10 give them a bulky appearance
habitats: quite variable, still waters, quiet streams
behaviors: wings held closed when perched; low flying
American Bluets Enallagma - CA species are blue & black patterned; perch on vegetation; wings at rest are held alongside abdomen; tandem oviposit at still water sites; swarm ...pg. 78, 86-89
Eurasian Bluet Coenagrion - similar to American Bluets, showing more black
Dancers Argia - most are blue & black patterned, some are lavender & black, "dancing" flight; perch on ground and/or rocks with wings held closed above abdomen; tandem oviposit in moving waters; territorial wing clapping; long spines on legs ...pg.78-85
Forktails Ischnura - mostly black; blue on thorax & near abdomen tip; perch on emergent vegetation; females solo oviposit into floating vegetation; resting wing position variable...pg.78, 91-97
Exclamation Damsel Zoniagrion - one species; similar to forktails; 2 blue exclamation-like marks top of thorax ...pg. 90
Firetails Telebasis - red coloring; small & petite ...pg. 78 & 99
Red Damsels Amphiagrion - black and red coloring; small but stocky ...pg. 98
Sprites Nehalennia - RARE; metallic green coloration; small & petite

Family: SPREADWINGS - Lestidae


pages 100-107

Family: SPREADWINGS - Lestidae


2 CA genera, including the Pond Spreadwings and the Stream Spreadwings
sizes: small to medium/large, slender; lengths: 30 - 62 mm
males: long; dark with blues, greens; blue eyes; pruinose pale area near tip; some show more extensive pruinosity
females: more stout; less colorful; not pruinose
habitats: ponds, marshes, streams, slow rivers
behaviors: usually hold wings open when at rest, a la stealth bombers; oviposit in plant tissue that is above water level
Pond Spreadwings Lestes - 5 CA species; found flying at still water sites from spring through fall; patrol shoreline from emergent vegetation; pairs oviposit while in tandem into non-woody vegetation above the water level
Stream Spreadwings Archilestes - 2 CA species - moving water sites; our largest damselflies; tandem oviposit into woody vegetation such as bay, alder & willow branches overhanging creeks/small rivers (even when dry); late season flight

Family: BROAD-WINGED DAMSELS - Calopterygidae


page 108-110

Family: BROAD-WINGED DAMSELS - Calopterygidae


2 CA genera, including Jewelwing & Rubyspot
sizes: medium/large, slender; lengths: 40 - 52mm
males: large for damselflies; showy; colorful patches in wings
females: more stout; less colorful bodies and wings
habitats: streams, slow rivers, esp. with vegetation
behaviors: butterfly-like courtship &/or male display flights; perch horizontally, head down on vegetation, shoreline & mid-stream rocks
Jewelwings Calopteryx - 1 CA species; large broad wings with outer third black; beautiful green and blue iridescent coloration on body changes with angle of viewing; long spindly legs; butterfly-like courtship displays; males defend territories
Rubyspots, Hetaerina: - 1 CA species*, males have basal quarter to third of broad wings with beautiful ruby red patches on upper surface; thorax matures to red as seen through smoky glass or to dark with reddish iridescence; very long dark legs; males duel in display flights

Family: POND DAMSELS - Coenagrionidae

...pg.77-99

Family: POND DAMSELS - Coenagrionidae

Quick Guide to Pond Damsels (p. 78)

Image by Ray Bruun

Dancer vs. Bluet wing position
pairs tandem ovipositing
image of 3 species in pairs ovipositing

GENUS: Argia Dancers - 10 CA species ...pages 78, 79-85

sizes: medium, lengths 23 - 50 mm
description: males are usually blue (or violet/purplish) & black;
perch with wings held well up and over back, sail-like;
leg hairs 2X as long as space between them;
4th leg joint has 2 rows stiff bristles;
eyes often a dark blue color but not black;
side stripe on thorax often pinched or split
females: 2 forms - most common is tan or gray where male is blue; other is like male;
no vulvar spine on segment 8
nymph: robust
behavior: flight `dance-like' (up & down); 'clap' wings when approached;
alight more frequently in open spaces on rocks &/or wood rather than on vegetation;
more likely at moving waters;
tandem oviposit with male in 'sentinel' position
eggs laid on surface mats of algae, floating vegetation or on wood

Photos
male
male
male
male
male
male
male
male
images by Doug Aguillard at his website
images by Ray Bruun at his Flickr website
images by Don Roberson at his website
images by John Sterling at his website
female, close-up of thorax
female
female, close-up of thorax
female, close-up of thorax
male-like female
pair
pair
Scans
male side
male top
male
male
male
immature male
pair
female
female
Emma's Dancer Argia emma...pg. 79

size: small/medium, length 34 - 40 mm

male: usually purplish but can be blue; thoracic side stripe pinched at middle, top stripe on thorax unique - very narrow & straight; abdomen lavender and black with no side triangles, blue 'tail' segments 8-10 can have short black vertical stripes sides of segments 8 & 9; wings have pale stigma; compare to other species by appendages

female: yellowish tan or more rarely male-like; top thoracic stripe very thin; pale stigma

similar species: Vivid Dancer has black triangles along side of abdomen, wide top thoracic stripe, can look 'purple' when cold, females are less 'yellowish' in coloration; Lavender Dancer (below) has split side thoracic stripe, wider top thoracic stripe.

behavior: males perch on rocks or logs jutting above rushing streams or on the nearby shoreline rocks, and sometimes vegetation

habitat: rocky streams, rivers (not likely at seeps)

CA flight period: March - October

CA distribution: all but southern Calif.

CA distribution map

Southwestern distribution map

Photos
male
male
male
male
male - AZ
male
images by Doug Aguillard at his website
images by Don Roberson at his website
multiple images
pair
pair
pair
pair
female - AZ
Scans
pair - AZ
Lavender Dancer Argia hinei...pg. 79 (mention)

size: small/medium length 30 - 35 mm

male: violet when mature; thoracic shoulder stripe forked; frontal stripe wide; mature males show lower half of thorax pruinose white; segment 8-10 form contrasting blue "tail" with black under 8 & 9 only; prefers shallow rocky stream areas; use appendages to differentiate

female: light brown; abdomen & thorax patterning similar to male; dark intrusions on pale tail tip

habitat: streams (even ephemeral)

CA flight period: May - October

CA distribution: southern Calif.

CA distribution map

Southwestern distribution map

Photos
male
male
male
male
male
male
male, close-up
immature male
male with mites
male, frontal close-up
images by John Sterling at his website
images by Doug Aguillard at his website
images by Ray Bruun at his Flickr website
images by Don Roberson at his website
images at Odonata of Orange County
male & female
female
female
female
female
female
female
female
male-colored female
female, close-up of thorax
female
female
Scans
male
male
male
male
female
female
female
scan odd pair
Vivid Dancer Argia vivida...pg. 78, 80

size: small/medium, length 30 - 40 mm

male: vivid blue & black markings; thorax top stripe has wide urn shape; side thoracic stripe pinched at mid-length; middle abdomen segment sides have small backwards pointing arrow-shaped/triangular black streaks; blue tip surrounds segments 8-10; when cool coloring becomes more purple; immatures - milky gray

female: tan/gray & black or male-like

habitat: seeps, streams; wanders

CA flight period: capable of flight whenever there is a prolonged warm spell

CA distribution: common statewide

CA distribution map

Southwestern distribution map

Photos
male
male
male
male
male
male
(new early flight data)
male, in hand
male
male, close-up thorax
images by Don Roberson at his website
images by Ray Bruun at his Flickr website
images by Doug Aguillard at his website
Scans
male
male
male
male
male
male
male
pair
pair - OR
California Dancer Argia agrioides ...pg. 81

size: small, length 27 - 35 mm

male: brilliant sky-blue; thorax shoulder stripe variably forked (lower stripe can be only interrupted); blue and black abdomen with pale spots usually at side of black ring, blue "tail" segments 8-10; distance between lower appendages from above greater than width of individual appendages, no inward pointing lobe on appendages when viewed from above; dark wing veins and a stripe, not spot on side of seg. 2

female: less colorful, thicker bodied than male; usually tan and black, one form male-like

similar species: VERY similar to Aztec Dancer (see below):
California Dancer usually has a stripe on segment 2 while the Aztec has a spot;
use appendages to differentiate
Vivid Dancer is larger and has a richer blue, sometimes bluish-violet, color, dark triangles along side of abdomen

habitat: open rivers and streams

CA flight period: late February - late November

CA distribution: statewide

CA distribution map

Southwestern distribution map

Photos
male
male
images by Doug Aguillard at his website
images by Ray Bruun at his Flickr website
images by Don Roberson at his Monterey website
pairs
female (probably this species)
Scans
male
male - AZ
female
Aztec Dancer Argia nahuana...pg. 81 (mention)

size: small, length 27 - 35 mm

male: brilliant sky-blue; thorax shoulder stripe variably forked (lower stripe can be interrupted); blue "tail" segments 8-10; spot on segment 2 side (not stripe) distance between lower appendages from above less than width of individual appendages, inward pointing lobe on appendages when viewed from above

female: less colorful, thicker bodied than male; usually tan and black, another form male-like

similar species: VERY similar to California Dancer:
Aztec Dancer usually has a spot on segment 2 side while the California Dancer has a stripe;
use appendages to differentiate
Vivid Dancer is larger and has a richer blue, sometimes bluish-violet, color, dark triangles along side of abdomen

habitat: open rivers and streams

CA flight period: April - November

CA distribution: sporadic statewide

CA distribution map

Southwestern distribution map

Photos
male
male, close-up of thorax
male
male
male
male (new early flight data)
images by Doug Aguillard at his website
images by Bob Miller at his website
images by Ray Bruun at his Flickr website
images by John Sterling at his website
female
female
female
female
Scans
male
male
male
male
immature male
male appendages
female
Paiute Dancer Argia alberta...pg. 82

size: very small, length 27 - 32 mm

male: smaller and darker than most other dancers; dark thoracic side stripe prominent and forked; small eye-spots; abdomen mostly dark with thin contrasting blue or grayish purple rings not quite close at the top with streaks on the lower sides, middle segments black on top; immatures colored more purple; wings clear, dark veins

female: light brown/tan & black or male-like

similar species: abdomen similar to Blue-ringed Dancer, but not so distinctly marked or colorful

habitat: stream/pond arid areas

CA flight period: February - December


CA distribution: all desert areas

CA distribution map

Southwestern distribution map

Photos
male
male
male
images by Bob Miller at his website
images by Doug Aguillard at his website
images by John Sterling at his website
images by Ray Bruun at his Flickr website
female
female
Scans
male - AZ
male
male
female
female
Blue-ringed Dancer Argia sedula...pg. 83

size: small, length 30 - 34 mm

male: black abdomen has narrow blue rings separating sections, rings are closed at the top; blue "tail" 8-10 on top side only; thorax has wide dark side and top stripe; large eyespots; wings dark veined, sometimes amber tinged; use appendages to differentiate

female: always paler than male, showing olive-tan wherever male is blue; wings amber-tinged

similar species: abdomen similar to Paiute Dancer, but more distinctly marked,and more colorful

habitat: sunny sections of small/medium rivers

CA flight period: February - early December

CA distribution: southern Calif. and eastern desert areas

CA distribution map

Southwestern distribution map

Photos
male - NV
male - NV
male - NV
male - NV
male - NV
male - AZ
male - AZ
female - NV
female - NV
female - AZ
Scans
male & female - TX
Kiowa Dancer Argia immunda ...checklist

size: small/medium, length 26 - 38 mm

male: blue or blue violet & black; pale thoracic side stripe wide and irregular in shape; dark side stripe forked; large eyespots; abdominal segments 3-6 unique with thin pale basal ring & then 3 alternating black-pale- black markings each of approximately the same width; wings clear, dark veins

female: tan where male is blue

habitat: streams & rivers, lakes

CA flight period: found once in state on May 30th

CA distribution: RARE: found once in CA, known from NV & AZ

CA distribution map

Southwestern distribution map

Photos
male
male
images by John Sterling at his website
images by Ray Bruun at his Flickr website
images by Doug Aguillard at his website
images by Don Roberson at his website
female
male-colored female
male-colored female
female
female
female
Scans
male
male
immature male
immature male
male head & thorax top
male & female
female (brown)
female (blue)
Sooty Dancer Argia lugens...pg. 84

size: medium, length 42 - 48 mm

male: large for a damselfly; unlike most Dancers, no blue near abdomen tip; thorax develops dark sooty blue pruinosity; noticeable pale ring around each segment, lacks blue 'tail'; eyes appear large because they lack obvious eyespots; wings can become slightly smoky, pale stigma; long-legged; immature patterned brown like female

female: thorax patterned blue or brown; pale rings abdomen

behavior: perches on rocks mid-stream

habitat: rocky streams, rivers

CA flight period: April - October

CA distribution: widespread

CA distribution map

Southwestern distribution map

Photos
male
male
images by Doug Aguillard at his website
images by John Sterling at his website
images by Ray Bruun at his Flickr website
female
female
female
Scans
male
male
male
pair
female
female
female
Powdered Dancer Argia moesta...pg. 85

size: medium, length 40 - 49 mm

male: large for a damselfly; develops chalky/powdery pale gray pruinosity with age, especially thorax; abdomen turns more solid pale gray on segments 8-10 (no blue 'tail'); use appendages to differentiate

female: coppery or sky blue thorax; older females sometimes become a bit pruinose

habitat: rocky rivers, windy lakes

CA flight period: April - November

CA distribution: southern Calif.

CA distribution map

Southwestern distribution map


Image by Ray Bruun

Bluet vs. Dancer wing position
photo of a Bluet swarm
Bluet wing position
female Bluet - non-male-like color form
female Bluet - male-like color form
pair in mating "heart"
GENUS: Enallagma American Bluets - 9 CA species ...78, 86-89

description: males are usually bright blue & black patterned;
very similar in appearance to Dancers but flight not `dance-like';
wings are held folded down alongside the body, not sail-like over the back as in Dancers;
leg hairs not twice as long as space between them;
eyes often quite black on top unlike dancers which are more often a dark blue color;
the black line on side of thorax often makes a 'jag' or 'elbow' near the head;
females: several color forms: usually tan or gray where male is blue; sometimes colored male-like but usually with much less blue; have a vulvar spine on segment 8 which Dancers lack
behavior: fly low over the water & grasses along shore;
perch on vegetation with wings slightly drooping at abdomen side;
copulate in wheel position (looks more like a heart than a wheel!); can last up to 44 mins; males capable of removing sperm from female's prior matings before insemination; usually tandem oviposit, but sometimes females oviposit while single;
eggs laid at still water sites into plant tissue - usually this is floating vegetation, but females may submerge for up to an hour ovipositing;
males do not submerge with the female; can form swarms over water while ovipositing
nymph: slender, translucent, gray, brown or green; climb about on submerged vegetation along the edges of ponds; take more than 4 months to mature and about 30 mins. to transform into flying adults on emergent vegetation
habitat: still water with abundant vegetation

Photos
male
male
pair
images by Doug Aguillard at his website
images by John Sterling at his website
images by Don Roberson at his website
images by Ray Bruun at his Flickr website
appendage close-up
female
Scans
male
male
male
male
male
male
male
male
male
Northern Bluet Enallagma annexum [formerly E. cyathigerum ] ...78, 86

size: small, length 30 - 40 mm

male: third segment more than 50% blue; side stripe is undivided with a jag near the front; large blue eyespots; lower appendages longer than uppers; a darker NW Coastal form exists Identify to species by appendages shape using hand lens

female: blue on abdomen reduced to rings, or tan and black

similar species: Boreal Bluets are identical in the field; the 2 species often occur together across much of California; hybridization is known; separate to species in hand by appendages using 10X lens

habitat: cool still or slow water

CA flight period: March - early November

CA distribution: statewide

CA distribution map

Southwestern distribution map

Photos
male
young male
male males
males
images by Doug Aguillard at his website
images by John Sterling at his website
images by Ray Bruun at his Flickr website
multiple images
pair
pair
pair
female
female
female
female
Scans
male
male
male
male
male
male
Boreal Bluet Enallagma boreale...pg. 86 (mention)

size: small, length 30 - 40 mm

male: third segment more than 50% blue; side stripe is undivided with a jag near the front; large blue eyespots; lower appendages longer than uppers. Identify to species by appendages shape using hand lens

female: much less blue ( blue reduced to rings), or tan and black

similar species: Northern Bluets are identical in the field; the 2 species often occur together across much of California; hybridization is known; separate to species in hand by appendages using 10X lens

habitat: cool still or slow water; mostly found in mountains, not in central valley

CA flight period: end of March - end of September

CA distribution: all, more common in north

CA distribution map

Southwestern distribution map

Photos
male
male
male
male
male
images by Doug Aguillard at his website
images by Ray Bruun at his Flickr website
images by John Sterling at his website
multiple images
pair
Scans
male
male
male
male
female
Alkali Bluet Enallagma clausum ...pg. 86 (mention)

size: small, length 30 - 40 mm

male: third segment more than 50% blue; side stripe is undivided with a jag near the front & sometimes appearing pinched (somewhat similar to a Dancer's); large blue eyespots; lower appendages only a little longer than uppers. Alkali has thin side stripe; found alkali water. Identify by appendages shape using hand lens

female: much less blue, or tan and black; entirely pale S8; rather thin humeral stripe

habitat: alkaline ponds and lakes

CA flight period: May - September

CA distribution: east of Sierra Nevada & Cascade Mts.

CA distribution map

Southwestern distribution map

Photos
male
male
male
male
male
male
male
multiple images
images by Doug Aguillard at his website
images by John Sterling at his website
images by Don Roberson at his website
images by Ray Bruun at his Flickr website
images by Bob Miller at his website
pair
female
female
female
Scans
male
male
male
male
male
male
male
pair
pair
Familiar Bluet Enallagma civile...pg. 87

size: very small, length 29 - 39 mm

male: small comma-shaped eyespots; abdominal markings more blue than black, third segment more than 50% blue; top thorax stripe dark; upper appendages longer than lowers, large and finlike with pale "button," appears splayed when seen from above; when seen from side 'tail end' appears triangular in shape; use appendages to differentiate

female: like male or tan and black

similar species: rarer River Bluet E. anna has upper appendages noticeably longer and forked, only occurs east of Sierra Nevada/Cascade Mts.
Northern, Boreal, & Alkali Bluets have lower appendages the longest; blue areas more angled than on E. civile;
Arroyo and Tule Bluet have 3rd segment more black than blue; use appendages to differentiate

behavior: Bluets fly low over water along shoreline; tandem oviposit on underwater plants floating at surface

habitat: still waters with fields nearby; also slow waters with abundant vegetation; even cattle tanks, and brackish waters; charactersitic species at disturbed areas; tolerates organic pollution

CA flight period: possibly all year in south

CA distribution: common statewide; especially common in Central Valley & so. CA lowlands

CA distribution map

Southwestern distribution map

Photos
males
male
male
female
pairs+
multiple images
images by Doug Aguillard at his website
images by John Sterling at his website
female
female
Scans
male
male
male
River Bluet Enallagma anna...pg. 87 (mention)

size: medium, length 29 - 36 mm

male: middle abdominal segments about half-blue from above; usually has a black stripe along the side of S2; appendages slightly forked; uppers noticeably longer than lowers, with the top fork extending well beyond lower appendages and angled downward (without a pale button on end) - noticeable to the naked eye

female: pale areas blue or tan;uniformly black on the abdomen top

similar species: Arroyo, Tule and Familiar Bluet are similar (use CA key)
more common Arroyo Bluet E. praevarum usually averages smaller in size - per. comm. Dennis Paulson, 2010

habitat: slow streams, ditches

CA flight period: early May - September

CA distribution: east of Sierra Nevada & Cascade Mts.

CA distribution map

Southwestern distribution map

Photos
male
male
male
male - AZ
male - AZ
male - MX
male - MX
appendages
appendages
multiple images by Richard Bledsoe
female - AZ
Scans
male - MX
Baja Bluet Enallagma eiseni NEW TO USA

size: medium, length 27 - 34 mm

male: distinctive - middle abdominal segments about equally blue and dark from above; dark on abdominal segments forms spears which point towards the tail (other bluets' dark areas point towards head); segments 8 - 10 blue; large blue eyespots have a connecting blue line; upper appendages noticeably longer than lowers, noticeable to the naked eye; from above have inward facing 'hooks'; lower appendages held next to abdomen, appear to be 'missing'

female: pale areas blue or tan, often with greenish cast; patterning similar to male's

habitat: slow streams, pools of desert oases

CA flight period: Found once in the state on June 16 & 17

CA distribution: VERY RARE; found only ONCE; report & document all sightings

CA distribution map

Southwestern distribution map

Photos
male
male
male
male
male
male
images by Doug Aguillard at his website
images by Don Roberson at his website
images by Ray Bruun at his Flickr website
pair
female
female
female
female
Scans
male
male
male
male
male
male
male
pair
female
Tule Bluet Enallagma carunculatum ...pg. 88

size: small, length 28 - 37 mm

male: 3rd segment more than 50% black; segments 3-7 more black than blue; segments 8 & 9 blue; thorax top stripe wide and dark; large pale button tip of upper appendages

female: pale areas blue or tan; no blue on tail

similar species: Arroyo Bluet has forked upper appendages

habitat: lakes, ponds, streams; especially with tules

CA flight period: January - December (possibly all year in the south)

CA distribution: common statewide

CA distribution map

Southwestern distribution map

Photos
male
male
male
male
images by Doug Aguillard at his website
images by Ray Bruun at his Flickr website
images by Don Roberson at his website
images by John Sterling at his website
Scans
male
male
Arroyo Bluet Enallagma praevarum...pg. 89

size: small, length 29 - 37 mm

male: 3rd segment usually more than 50% black; each segment 3-7 50% less blue than the previous segment; segments 8 & 9 blue; thorax top stripe wide and dark; upper and lower appendages about the same length, upper appendages forked, top fork the longest

female: pale areas blue or tan; no blue on tail

similar species: compare to Tule Bluet by appendages;
rarer River Bluet E. anna is found east of Sierra Nevada and Cascade mts. & usually larger in size - per per. comm. Dennis Paulson, 2010

habitat: lakes, ponds, streams, pools of rivers

CA flight period: early March - end of December

CA distribution: widespread but often overlooked

CA distribution map

Southwestern distribution map

Photos
male - CA
images by Doug Aguillard at his website
images by Ray Bruun at his Flickr website
photo pair
photo female
Scans
scan male - AZ
scan female - AZ

Double-striped Bluet Enallagma basidens...checklist

size: very small, very petite, length 21 - 28 mm

male: blue and black; blue eye spots connected; both top and side thoracic stripes `doubled' (thin blue line down middle of dark stripes); blue on end of 'tail' thin, appearing to contain small bluer circles; upper appendages longest and held in divergent position;

female: like male but can be pale where male is blue; has pale eye stripe

habitat: ponds, lakes, and ditches

distribution: southern species, rare in state;
found east of the Sierra Nevada and near Arizona border

flight period: end of March - October

CA distribution map

Southwestern distribution map

Photos
male
male
pair
images by Ray Bruun at his Flickr website
female
Scans
male - OR
pair
pair - OR
female
Taiga Bluet Coenagrion resolutum...checklist

size: very small, length 27 - 31 mm

male: mostly black above including segments 6&7: pale blue to turquoise markings; U-shaped mark atop seg.2; green tinged thorax; top pale stripe can be interrupted; tear-shaped eyespots middle abdomen segments mostly black, black markings on segment 2 are U-shaped

female: turquoise, tan, or green; very large eyespots

habitat: slow waters in northern mountains; prefers still, shaded water

CA flight period: May - August

CA distribution: uncommon; northeastern mountains

CA distribution map

Southwestern distribution map

Photos
male
male
male
male
male
male
male
male
male
male
male's appendages
multiple images
images by Doug Aguillard at his website
images by John Sterling at his website
images by ay Bruun at his Flickr website
images by Don Roberson at his Monterrey Co. website
female
female
female
female
female
female
female
brown form females
brown form female
brown form female
Scans
male
male
male
female
Exclamation Damsel Zoniagrion exclamationis...pg. 90

size: small/medium; length 30 - 35 mm

male: slender, forktail-like; black abdomen and thorax with blue markings; thorax top dark with a pair of turquoise exclamation marks (!!); blue on top of segments 1&2, 7-9 only; small dark stigma, large uniquely shaped eyespots - inner point faces inwards, while outer point faces forwards.

female: similar or brown, but blue on end of abdomen is only on part of segments 7 and 8; !! marks on top of thorax may be merged

similar species: larger than most similarly dark Forktail Ischnura species; Swift Forktail has continuous blue thoracic stripe, not !! - use appendages to differentiate

behavior: often rests with wings held slightly open; eggs laid in leaf blades & stems

habitat: permanent pools of mud-banked streams and ponds

CA flight period: March - September

CA distribution: CA endemic; northern coastal and central valley counties

CA distribution map

Southwestern distribution map



Image by Ray Bruun

nymph
GENUS: Forktails - Ischnura - 8 CA species ...pages 78, 91-97

size: small, lengths 20 - 35 mm
description: most are black, with less blue on abdomen than others Pond Damsels;
most appear black with blue showing only on thorax and end of `tail'
males: black with colored markings on thorax;
most have blue markings near end of abdomen;
a few species show yellow or red markings on thorax or abdomen
females: some similar to males, some not;
coloration and markings differ markedly from teneral to adult stages, many show orange when immature;
some become pruinose black or light gray
behavior: females oviposit unescorted into floating vegetation;
may only want to mate once; bend 'tail' down to signal male that she is not receptive;
eggs laid in stems & leaves of aquatic plants;
perch on emergent vegetation
habitat: still water with abundant vegetation

Photos
male
male
male
male
male
male
male
male
pair in wheel
pair in wheel
pair in wheel
images by Ray Bruun at his Flickr website
images by Doug Aguillard at his website
female
female
female
female
female
female
Scans
male
male
male
male & female
female
female
Swift Forktail Ischnura erratica...pg. 91

size: small/medium, 30 - 35 mm

male: two blue stripes atop black thorax, blue on thorax sides is similar in shape to that of bluets with a dark intrusion at the rear; larger than most other forktails with bolder markings; lower appendages are noticeably longer than uppers, long enough to see thru binoculars; yellow under abdomen with thin yellow rings; dark abdomen has blue atop segments # 8 - 9; stigma bi-colored with pale at the rear; large eyespots

female: bright green thorax sides, eye spots, and underside; or colored like male; immatreus orange and black; abdomen top all dark

similar species: larger than other similarly dark Forktail species; continuous blue side stripe, not the !! of the similarly sized Exclamation Damsel; Western Forktails are much smaller and have a much more prominent blue line between the post-ocular eye spots; use appendages to differentiate

CA habitat: ponds, lakes, streams and creeks with lush vegetation, clear water

CA flight period: February - September

CA distribution: CA endemic; northern coastal and central valley counties

CA distribution map

Southwestern distribution map

Photos
male
male
male
male
male
male
teneral male
male appendages
images by John Sterling at his website
images by Doug Aguillard at his website
images by Don Roberson at his website
images by Ray Bruun at his Flickr website
images at Odonata of Orange County
pair
pair
pair
mature female
mature female
immature female
immature female
immature female
immature female
immature female
male-colored female
male-colored female
male-colored female
multiple individuals, differing color morphs
nymph
nymph
Scans
male
female
female
female
male-colored female
Pacific Forktail Ischnura cervula...pg. 92

size: very small, length 23 - 30 mm

male: abdomen black with blue "tail" markings that touch top & bottom; upright 'fork' at top end of tail; black thorax top has 4 tiny blue spots, 1 each "corner", thorax sides aqua-blue; use appendages to differentiate

female: immature shows stripes on top of thorax and pinkish-orange eyespot color; becomes all dark pruinose when mature; pale stigma; long hairs extend from prothorax toward the midline; abdomen tip pattern - 2 narrow blue rings bracketing segment 8; male-colored female male-like form usually has larger dots atop thorax than male

nymph: tan or greenish

habitat: weedy ponds & creeks

CA flight period: all year in south (early date is usually Feb. in the north)

CA distribution: common statewide

CA distribution map

Southwestern distribution map

Photos
male
male
male
male
male
male
male
young male
immature male
pair
images by John Sterling at his website
images by Don Roberson at his website
images by Ray Bruun at his Flickr website
images by Doug Aguillard at his website
images at Odonata of Orange County
female
female
female
female
young female
Scans
male
male
male
female
male & females
Black-fronted Forktail Ischnura denticollis...pg. 93

size: very small,frail; length 21 - 26 mm

male: thorax top all dark with no stripes or dots, sides blue (green in immature); small circular eyespots; blue patches on top & bottom segments 8-9 do not touch; chartreuse underside; stigma has white margin at rear; top appendages bent down.

female: immature - pale coral; mature green/blue thorax sides

similar species: the very rare San Francisco Forktail is the 'twin' to the Black Fronted (comparison photo), but has differently shaped appendages; lacks the white margin at the rear of the stigma: all 'Black-fronted' type forktails seen in the Bay Area that don't have white-margined stigma should be examined in hand. The two species have been known to hybridize. Compare in hand by appendages

habitat: lakes, ponds, seeps

CA flight period: all year in south (March is usual early date in north)

CA distribution: statewide except northern coastal area

CA distribution map

Southwestern distribution map

Photos
male
male
male
male
male
male
male
female
female
images by Ray Bruun at his Flickr website
images by John Sterling at his website
pair in tandem
pair in wheel
female
mature female
immature female
immature female
Scans
male
male
male
male
male
male
pair
female
San Francisco Forktail Ischnura gemina...pg. 93

size: small, length 24 - 28 mm; wingspan ~28 mm

male: thorax top and abdomen dark; blue spots on segments 8 and 9; underside chartreuse; appendages up-pointing

female: cryptic brown, reddish, or male-like

similar species: very similar to Black-fronted Forktail, hence the Latin name `gemina' for twin; SF Forktail is slightly more robust; compare the two by appendages, appendages; SF Forktail lacks white margin at rear of stigma; eye spots back of head are more circular in shape than Western's or Pacific's; hybridization ocurring.

CA habitat: weedy ditches; often near salt water

CA flight period: March - early November

CA distribution: CA endemic; S.F. Bay Area ONLY; range shrinking; rare: currently only found SF Airport to Sonoma Co. line; PLEASE REPORT ALL SIGHTINGS

CA distribution map

Southwestern distribution map

Photos
male
male
male
male
male
male
male
images by John Sterling at his website
images by Ray Bruun at his Flickr website
images by Doug Aguillard at his website
images by Don Roberson at his website
pair
mature female
mature female
mature female
mature female
mature female
immature female
immature female
male-colored female
Scans
male
male
male
male
young male
female
female
immature female
Western Forktail Ischnura perparva ...pg. 78, 94

size: very small, length 24 - 31 mm

male: thorax top has 2 blue-green (immature green) stripes, sides on segments 8 & 9 (usually) barely touch top and bottom; small eyespots point inward. lower appendages forked

female: immature orange & black with segments 1-3 mostly orange; becomes all pale pruinose at maturity

habitat: weedy ponds, creeks

similar species: Swift Forktail is larger, has bi-colored stigma

behavior: females lay eggs solo; only mate once, then curl their 'tail' down to signal when approached by other males signaling that they are not interested in sex!

CA flight period: early March - early November

CA distribution: all Calif. except Imperial County

CA distribution map

Southwestern distribution map

Photos
male
male
male
images by Doug Aguillard at his website
images by Ray Bruun at his Flickr website
pair in wheel
pair in wheel
mature female
mature female
young female
immatue female
immature female
immature female
Scans
male
male side - TX
female
Citrine ForktailIschnura hastata...pg. 95

size: very small, length 20 - 25 mm; smallest Odonate in North America

male: abdomen (even tip) mostly yellow above & below with some black; thoracic stripes green; forewing has a pale reddish-brown stigma that is NOT touching the leading edge; hind wing has (usual) dark stigma; tail end YELLOW with strong 'fork'

female: immature is orange & black with segments 1-4 mostly orange; mature is pale pruinose on abdomen

habitat: lushly vegetated marshes/ponds/streams

CA flight period: March - November

CA distribution: southern Calif.

California distribution map

Southwestern distribution map

Photos
male
male
male
males
images by Doug Aguillard at his website
images by Ray Bruun at his Flickr website
images by John Sterling at his website
pair
pair
pair
female
female
dispersal/migratory event
Scans
male
comparative scan Ramburs/Desert males
male-colored female
male-colored female
comparative scan Ramburs/Desert females & males
male - AZ
Rambur's Forktail Ischnura ramburii...pg. 96

size: small/medium, length 27 - 35 mm

male: green-blue shoulder stripe very thin, parallel sided; tiny circular eyespots; sides of thorax and segments 1-2 greenish-blue; yellowish-orange underside only of segments 3-6, black above; blue surrounds segment 8, part of 9, not top of 10; lower appendages point straight out

female: male-like or Day-Glo red/orange turning tan/olive, upper surface of the abdomen solid black, not orangish, wide black stripe thorax top

similar species: Desert Forktail has wider side stripe, larger tear-drop shaped eyespots and yellow from underside curls up onto top of abdomen - comparison shot Rambur's & Desert males

habitat: pond/lake/slow streams; probably increasing here in California, from which it was first recorded not many years ago. It does well in human-altered environments

CA flight period: February - December

CA distribution: southern Calif.

CA distribution map

Southwestern distribution map

Photos
male
male
male
male
male
male
images by Bob Miller at his website
images by Doug Aguillard at his website
images by Ray Bruun at his Flickr website
pair
female - TX
female ovipositing - AZ
Scans
male
male
male
male
male
male
male
male
comparative scan Rambur's/Desert males
comparative scan Rambur's/Desert males
pair
pair
Desert Forktail Ischnura barberi...pg. 97

size: small/medium, length 27 - 35 mm

male: pale shoulder stripe thicker than Rambur's, widest near eyes; large tear-shaped eyespots connected by a line; pale orange on mid segments curves partly up & over the abdomen leaving the dark areas on top appearing dart shaped; blue surrounds all of segments 8 & 9; lower appendages point upward

female: like male or pale tan-orange; narrow top stripe

similar species: Rambur's Forktail has narrower side stripe, small circular shaped eyespots comparison shot Rambur's & Desert males

habitat: pond/lakes/slow streams

CA flight period: early March - November

CA distribution: southern Calif. & Colusa County (Bear Creek @ Sulfur Creek)

CA distribution map

Southwestern distribution map

Photos
male
pair - Siskiyou County Voucher
male & female - MN
images by Don Roberson at his website
images by Ray Bruun at his Flickr website
images by John Sterling at his website
male - MT
Scans
pair
pair - OR
pair - OR
male - WV
female - WV
Sedge Sprite Nehalennia irene ...checklist

size: very small, slender, length 25 - 30 mm

male: mostly dark with green; top of thorax and abdomen metallic green; middle segments at least 50% black from above; thorax top entirely metallic green, sides blue; abdomen blue in male, green for females; black areas whole length of abdomen; black spot rear of 2nd abdominal segment

CA habitat: slow waters: sedge marshes/bogs/lakes/ponds/streams/rivers

female: very similar to male

CA flight period: June - August

CA distribution: northern CA (Mt. Lassen area)

CA distribution map

Southwestern distribution map

Photos
male
male
male
male
images by John Sterling at his website
images by Doug Aguillard at his website
images by Ray Bruun at his Flickr website
pair
pair in wheel
female
female
female
female
Scans
male
male
male - OR
female
pair
Western Red Damsel Amphiagrion abbreviatum...pg. 98

size: very small, length 24 - 30 mm

male: stocky; hairy black head and thorax, brown eyes, black on top; bright red abdomen barely extends beyond wings; black top and/or sides segments 7-10; dark legs

female: stout; pale peach to reddish; thorax tawny; rare dark pruinose form exists

habitat: mountain lakes, marshes, slow streams

CA flight period: April - September

CA distribution: most areas

CA distribution map

Southwestern distribution map

Photos
male
male
male
male
male
images by John Sterling at his website
images by Ray Bruun at his Flickr website
images by Don Roberson at his website
images by Doug Aguillard at his website
pair
pair
pair
pair
female - AZ
Scans
male
male
males
Desert Firetail Telebasis salva...pg. 78, 99

size: very small, length 24 - 29 mm

male: dainty and slender; all red abdomen extends well beyond wing tips; red face and eyes; black eye spots; thorax red with black; red legs; tip of abdomen without black

female: some black thorax top; eggs laid in algae mats

habitat: shallow waters with algae scum; lowlands (not just in deserts)

CA flight period: March - December

CA distribution: all but far northern Calif.

CA distribution map

Southwestern distribution map

Family: SPREADWINGS - Lestidae


pages 100-107

Family: SPREADWINGS - Lestidae


2 CA genera - Pond Spreadwings and Stream Spreadwings
sizes: small to medium/large, slender; lengths: 30 - 62 mm
males: long; dark with blues, greens; blue eyes; pruinose pale area near tip; some show more extensive pruinosity
females: more stout; less colorful; not pruinose
habitats: ponds, marshes, streams, slow rivers
behaviors: often hold wings open when at rest, a la stealth bombers; oviposit in plant tissue that is above water level
Pond Spreadwings Lestes - 5 CA species; found flying at still water sites spring through fall; patrol shoreline from emergent vegetation on which they rest; oviposit while in tandem into non-woody vegetation above the water level; comparison by appendages sometimes necessary for making identifications
Stream Spreadwings Archilestes - 2 CA species; moving water sites; our largest damselflies; tandem oviposit into woody vegetation such as bay, alder & willow branches overhanging creeks/small rivers (even when dry); late season flight
Photos
male
male
male
male
images by Ray Bruun at his Flickr website
images by John Sterling at his website
images by Doug Aguillard at his website
images by Don Roberson at his website
pair
pair
female
Scans
male
male
male
male
male underside - BC
female
pair
female
female
Spotted Spreadwing Lestes congener ...pg. 101

size: small/medium, slender, length 34 - 40 mm

male: blue eyes; thorax dark with light brown 'shoulder' stripe; first and last two abdominal segments pruinose gray-blue; other segments are dark or with a green sheen; short lower appendages <50% of uppers; 4 dark spots thorax underside; dark brown stigma

female: more stout; less colorful; 4 dark spots thorax underside;

habitat: weedy ponds, streams

CA flight period: May - December

CA distribution: common statewide

CA distribution map

Southwestern distribution map

Photos
male
male
male
images by Ray Bruun at his Flickr website
images by Doug Aguillard at his website
pair in wheel
female
Scans
male
male
male side
male
male
male
male - OR
female
female
female
Northern [formerly Common] Spreadwing Lestes disjunctus...pg. 102

size: small/medium, slender, length 30 - 40 mm

male: blue eyes; thorax becomes pruinose pale blue; first two and last two or three abdominal segment become pruinose gray-blue; other segments have dark/green sheen; lower appendages long & straight but may be held crossed or like a V (examine carefully with hand lens); black stigma;

female: more stout; no pruinosity; ovipositor does NOT extend beyond end of abdomen

habitat: weedy ponds, streams

CA flight period: April - October

CA distribution: central & northern Calif.

CA distribution map

Southwestern distribution map

Photos
male
male
images by Ray Bruun at his Flickr website
images by Doug Aguillard at his website
images by Joohn Sterling at his website
female
female
Scans
male
male
male
male
male
male
male
Lyre-tipped Spreadwing Lestes unguiculatus...pg. 103

size: small/medium, slender, length 30 - 40 mm

male: blue eyes; thorax top dark; first & last two abdominal segments pruinose gray-blue; other segments are dark or have a green sheen; lower appendages lyre-shaped; dark brown stigma often has white at outer edges

female: more stout; less colorful

similar species: compare to Northern Spreadwing which occasionally crosses it's appendages, making them looking lyre-shaped unless you check very carefully

habitat: weedy ponds, streams

CA flight period: June - September

CA distribution: northern hills and mountains

CA distribution map

Southwestern distribution map

Photos
male
male
male
male
male
male
male
male
teneral male
images by Doug Aguillard at his website
images by Don Roberson at his website
images by Ray Bruun at his Flickr website
images by John Sterling at his website
pair ovipositing
pair ovipositing
female
female
teneral female
Scans
male
female
females
Black Spreadwing Lestes stultus...pg. 104

size: small/medium, slender, length 35 - 42 mm

male: top of thorax black sometimes bronzy in immature, sides blue; abdomen has metallic green sheen, first two and last two segments show pruinose blue; appendages are long and broad at the end ("boot-shaped"); stigmas tips pale; short and stocky appearance

female: more stout; more brown, sometimes coppery; emerges pinkish

similar species: Emerald Spreadwing has same appendage shape, but metallic emerald top to thorax (see below)

habitat: sloughs, ditches, ponds

CA flight period: March - late August

CA distribution: mostly northern Calif.

CA distribution map

Southwestern distribution map

Photos
male
male
male
male
young male
images by John Sterling at his website
images by Ray Bruun at his Flickr website
female
female
female
Scans
male
male
male
male
male
female
female
Emerald Spreadwing Lestes dryas...pg. 105

size: small/medium, slender, length 32 - 40 mm

male: top of thorax bright metallic green (immature is bronzy); sides of thorax blue; abdomen bright metallic green; first two and last two segments show blue; appendages are long and broad at the end ('boot-shaped)

female: stocky; usually less emerald; sometimes coppery

habitat: forested mountain areas

CA flight period: April - early October

CA distribution: hillsides statewide

CA distribution map

Southwestern distribution map

Photos
male
male
male
male
male
male
male
teneral male
images by Don Roberson at his website
images by Ray Bruun at his Flickr website
images by Doug Aguillard at his website
images by John Sterling at his website
multiple images
female
female
tandem pair
pair ovipositing
ovipositing pair
ovipositing pairs
ovipositing pairs
Scans
male
male
male
California Spreadwing Archilestes californicus ...pg. 106

size: medium/large, slender, length 48- 58 mm

male: long brown body with pruinose area near tip; 2 incomplete white stripes thorax sides; blue eyes; wings colorless, stigma from above pale; upper appendages semicircular, lower are short and parallel; late season flier

female: less colorful brown tones

similar species: compare to Great Spreadwing which has a thoracic side stripe that is continuous across area

habitat: streams with alders/willows

CA flight period: June - December

CA distribution: sporadic statewide; not found east of the Sierra Nevada/Cascades

CA distribution map

Southwestern distribution map

Photos
male
male
young male
male
male
male
multiple images & story
pair ovipositing
pairs ovipositing into Bay Tree branches
female
female
female
female
nymph
Scans
male
male
female
female
female
Great Spreadwing Archilestes grandis...pg. 107

size: medium/large, slender, length 50 - 62 mm; North America's largest damselfly

male: long abdomen gray with greenish sheen, pruinose area near tip; one continuous pale yellow side stripe on thorax (white in immature); blue eyes; dark stigma; top appendages semicircular, lowers divergent; North American's largest damselfly; late season flier

female: less colorful

similar species: compare to CA Spreadwing which has a thoracic side stripe that is not continuous across area

habitat: streams with overhanging alders/willows/bay

CA flight period: March - January (late season flier)

CA distribution: very sporadic statewide; not found east of the Sierra Nevada/Cascades

CA distribution map

Southwestern distribution map

Family: BROAD-WINGED DAMSELS - Calopterygidae


page 108-110

Family: BROAD-WINGED DAMSELS - Calopterygidae

2 CA genera, Jewelwings and Rubyspots
sizes: medium/large, slender; lengths: 40 - 52mm;
males: large for damselflies; showy; colorful patches in wings
females: more stout; less colorful bodies and wings
habitats: streams, slow rivers, esp. with vegetation
behaviors: butterfly-like courtship &/or male display flights; perch horizontally, head down on vegetation, shoreline & mid-stream rocks
Jewelwings Calopteryx - 1 CA species; large broad wings with outer third black; beautiful green and blue iridescent coloration on body changes with angle of viewing; long spindly legs; butterfly-like courtship displays; males defend territories
Rubyspots Hetaerina - 1 CA species*; males have basal quarter to third of broad wings with beautiful ruby red patches on upper surface; thorax matures to red as seen through smoky glass or to dark with reddish iridescence; very long dark legs; males duel in display flights
Photos
male
male
male
male
male
male
male
male
males
multiple images
images by Don Roberson at his website
images by Bob Miller at his website
images by John Sterling at his website
images by Doug Aguillard at his website
images by Ray Bruun at his Flickr website
images at Odonata of Orange County
female
female
female
female
female
female
Scans
male
male
female
American Rubyspot Hetaerina americana...pg. 109

size: medium/large, length 40 - 46 mm

male: wings ruby red basal 1/3 to 1/2; thorax dark with metallic red or blood red as if under black glass, pale side stripes; abdomen bronzy brown-green to red with thin pale rings; in CA usually no stigma, other states pale stigma; appendages have 1-2 toothed lobes

female: less colorful; wing streaks leading edge orange, less defined, tips mostly clear, can have tiny white stigma

similar species: like no other California damselfly; BUT in the southern part of CA and Merced County* compare to Canyon Rubyspot H. vulnerata* (see below) by appendages: vulnerata lacks tooth-like projection on inner side of upper appendages; wingtips are smoky *there is a questionable record for CA from this county

behavior: perches on rocks or logs in the middle of a stream; flicks wings to attract females;
females may oviposit completely submerged

habitat: open streams, rivers

CA flight period: late February - December

CA distribution: common statewide

CA distribution map

Southwestern distribution map

Photos
male - AZ
male - AZ
male - AZ
male - UT
male - NM
male - NM
male - AZ
male
male & female - AZ
female - AZ
Scans
male - USA
female - USA
*Canyon Rubyspot Hetaerina vulnerata* ...not in CDC (revised)*

size: medium/large, length 36 - 49 mm

male: red at wing base usually less extensive than American Rubyspot's; smoky edge/wing-tip; no stigma; compare by appendages American - upper appendages 1-2 toothlike lobes inside at midpoint; Canyon lacks these lobes

female: less colorful; wing patches orangish, no stigma, smoky wing tips

habitat: canopied streams, rivers

CA flight period: not known

CA distribution: *early dubious CA report, San Bernardino Co., but is known in adjacent AZ

NO CA distribution map

Southwestern distribution map

Photos
male
male
male
male
pair in cop
images by John Sterling at his website
images by Ray Bruun at his Flickr website
images by Doug Aguillard at his website
female
female
female
females
female
female
immature female
photos of behaviors
Scans
male
male
male
female
female
River Jewelwing Calopteryx aequabilis ...pg. 108,110

size: medium, length 46 - 52 mm

male: jewel-like bright metallic green/blue thorax and abdomen; outer 1/3 of wings conspicuously dark

female: duller abdomen, pale tip; smoky wings have a contrasting pale stigma

behavior: perches on rocks or logs in the middle of a stream; butterfly-like courtship flights;
females sometimes oviposit totally submerged

habitat: fast waters of large wooded streams/rivers; larva live in root masses

CA flight period: early May - August

CA distribution: northern Calif.

CA distribution map

Southwestern distribution map


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I'm glad you enjoy the dragonflies and damselflies too! THANK-YOU for visiting!!

Kathy Biggs, Azalea Creek Publishing

Kathy Biggs
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