Arizona Damselflies and Dragonflies Status Update

Arizona Damselflies & Dragonflies (Odonata)

1-IMG_3695Damselflies and Dragonflies belong to the order Odonata (“toothed ones”).  They are carnivorous predators whose earliest fossils occur in Pennsylvanian sediments deposited about 325 million years ago.  Evolution chanced upon an efficient form for these creatures; only small changes have occurred for the last 200 million years.  Compare that to mammal predators, most of which have persisted less than 50 million years.

Damselflies and Dragonflies are easy to distinguish because they hold their wings differently when perched.  Damselflies  perch with their wings together above their back.  Dragonflies perch with their wings extended (both photographs).

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Female Flame or Neon SkimmerI am not sure of the species of the dragonfly in the first photograph.  It might be a Paddle-tailed Darner (Aeshna palmata). The second photo shows a pond skimmer that is either a female Flame Skimmer or a female Neon Skimmer.  Both photos were taken in my yard on the floodplain of the Agua Fria River.

Like most predators, Odonata have very good vision and are capable of fast agile movement.  Since mosquitoes are among their prey, I think of them as ‘beneficial’ insects, and I appreciate the common name, “mosquito hawks”.  Beekeepers may not be as charmed, however, as dragonflies will occasionally take a honey bee.

Damselflies and Dragonflies Require Open Water

Odonata are most abundant around water.  Their eggs are laid in water and their nymphs develop there.  Usually a final molt occurs within one or two years and the mature insects take flight.

Odonata spend so much of their life in and around water that their success is influenced by water quality.  Dragonflies are more sensitive than damselflies.  Absence or decline of dragonflies usually indicates polluted water.  In Arizona, water is being depleted and polluted by humans.  Thus, it is no surprise that the Arizona Game and Fish Department is concerned about most damselfly and dragonfly species.

Damselfly and Dragonfly Numbers

World:  5,500
U. S.:  467
Arizona:  134
Arizona Odonates at risk:  106* (79%)

*I based this number on the July 03, 2013 Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) Heritage Data Management System list.  The status of many species on the list is uncertain, but conditions are sufficiently threatening to warrant a “watch” designation by AZGFD.

Arizona Damselfly and Dragonfly References

Printed field guides by Behrstock (2008), Dunkle (2000) and Paulson (2009) are included along with Internet addresses for Arizona Odonates and OdonataCentral.  Both websites include photographs, occurrence maps, flight season dates, and checklists for Arizona counties.

  • The online Naturalist’s Bookstore has field guides (at the end of the category list) and other references.  Go to:  http://bit.ly/RKW2bC.
  • Arizona Odonates (Damselflies and Dragonflies):  http://www.azodes.com.
  • Behrstock, R.A. 2008. Dragonflies and damselflies of the Southwest.  Rio Nuevo Publishers, Tucson, AZ, 96 p.
  • Corbet, P, 1999. Dragonflies — Behavior and Ecology of Odonata. Comstock Pub. Assoc., New York.  829 p.
  • Dunkle, S.W.  2000.  Dragnoflies through binoculars:  A field guide to dragonflies of North America.  Oxford University Press, New York, NY.  266 p.
  • Odanata Central:  http://odonatacentral.org.
  • Paulson, D. 2009. Dragonflies and damselflies of the West.  Princeton Press.  Princeton, NJ.  536 p.

Arizona Odonata Conservation Status

S = Species designated “watch” by AZGFD.  These species include candidates for listing as threatened or endangered according to Endangered Species Act, and species of concern to the Arizona Game and Fish Department, U. S. Bureau of Land Management, U. S. Forest Service, Navajo Tribe, and Mexican government (includes Arizona species that are endangered, threatened, or of concern in Mexico).

? = Species from other Arizona lists that are not on the AZGFD list.

Arizona Damselfly and Dragonfly Checklist

S….Aeshna interrupta  /  Variable Darner

S….Aeshna palmata  /  Paddle-tailed Darner

S….Aeshna persephone  /  Persephone’s Darner

S….Amphiagrion abbreviatum  /  Western Red Damsel

S….Anax junius  /  Common Green Darner

S….Anax walsinghami  /  Giant Darner

S….Apanisagrion lais  /  Black-and-white Damsel

? ….Aphylla protracta  /  Narrow-striped Forceptail

S….Archilestes californicus  /  California Spreadwing

S….Archilestes grandis  /  Great Spreadwing

S….Argia agrioides  /  California Dancer

S….Argia alberta  /  Paiute Dancer

S….Argia apicalis  /  Blue-fronted Dancer

S….Argia carlcooki  /  Yaqui Dancer

S….Argia extranea  /  Spine-tipped Dancer

S….Argia fumipennis  /  Variable Dancer

S….Argia harknessi

S….Argia hinei  /  Lavender Dancer

S….Argia immunda  /  Kiowa Dancer

S….Argia lacrimans  /  Sierra Madre Dancer

S….Argia lugens  /  Sooty Dancer

S….Argia moesta  /  Powdered Dancer

S….Argia munda  /  Apache Dancer

S….Argia nahuana  /  Aztec Dancer

S….Argia oenea  /  Fiery-eyed Dancer

S….Argia pallens  /  Amethyst Dancer

S….Argia pima  /  Pima Dancer

S….Argia plana  /  Springwater Dancer

S….Argia sabino  /  Sabino Dancer

S….Argia sedula  /  Blue-ringed Dancer

S….Argia tarascana  /  Tarascan Dancer

S….Argia tezpi  /  Tezpi Dancer

S….Argia tonto  /  Tonto Dancer

S….Argia translata  /  Dusky Dancer

S….Argia vivida  /  Vivid Dancer

S….Brachymesia furcata  /  Red-tailed Pennant

……Brachymesia gravida  /  Four-spotted Pennant

……Brechmorhoga mendax  /  Pale-faced Clubskimmer

S….Brechmorhoga pertinax  /  Masked Clubskimmer

? ….Celithemis eponina  /  Halloween Pennant

S….Coenagrion resolutum  /  Taiga Bluet

S….Cordulegaster diadema  /  Apache Spiketail

? ….Cordulegaster dorsalis  /  Pacific Spiketail

? ….Coryphaeschna adnexa  /  Blue-faced Darner

S….Dythemis fugax  /  Checkered Setwing

? ….Dythemis maya  /  Mayan Setwing

S….Dythemis nigrescens  /  Black Setwing

S….Dythemis velox  /  Swift Setwing

S….Enallagma anna  /  River Bluet

S….Enallagma annexum  /  Northern Bluet

S….Enallagma basidens  /  Double-striped Bluet

S….Enallagma boreale  /  Boreal Bluet

S….Enallagma carunculatum  /  Tule Bluet

S….Enallagma civile  /  Familiar Bluet

S….Enallagma eiseni  /  Baja Bluet

S….Enallagma novaehispaniae  /  Neotropical Bluet

S….Enallagma praevarum  /  Arroyo Bluet

S….Enallagma semicirculare  /  Claw-tipped Bluet

S….Erpetogomphus compositus  /  White-belted Ringtail

S….Erpetogomphus crotalinus  /  Yellow-legged Ringtail

S….Erpetogomphus designatus  /  Eastern Ringtail

? ….Erpetogomphus elaps  /  Straight-tipped Ringtail

S….Erpetogomphus lampropeltis  /  Serpent Ringtail

S….Erythemis collocata  /  Western Pondhawk

S…. Erythemis simplicicollis  /  Eastern Pondhawk

S….Erythemis vesiculosa  /  Great Pondhawk

S….Erythrodiplax basifusca  /  Plateau Dragonlet

S….Erythrodiplax funerea  /  Black-winged Dragonlet

S….Hesperagrion heterodoxum  /  Painted Damsel

S….Hetaerina americana  /  American Rubyspot

? ….Hetaerina titia  /  Smoky Rubyspot

S….Hetaerina vulnerata  /  Canyon Rubyspot

S….Ischnura barberi  /  Desert Forktail

S….Ischnura cervula  /  Pacific Forktail

S….Ischnura damula  /  Plains Forktail

S….Ischnura demorsa  /  Mexican Forktail

S….Ischnura denticollis  /  Black-fronted Forktail

S….Ischnura hastata  /  Citrine Forktail

S….Ischnura perparva  /  Western Forktail

? ….Ischnura posita  /  Fragile Forktail

S….Ischnura ramburii  /  Rambur’s Forktail

S….Lestes alacer  /  Plateau Spreadwing

S….Lestes congener  /  Spotted Spreadwing

S….Lestes disjunctus  /  Northern Spreadwing

S….Lestes dryas  /  Emerald Spreadwing

……Libellula comanche  /  Comanche Skimmer

S….Libellula composita  /  Bleached Skimmer

S….Libellula croceipennis  /  Neon Skimmer

S….Libellula forensis  /  Eight-spotted Skimmer

……Libellula luctuosa  /  Widow Skimmer

S….Libellula nodisticta  /  Hoary Skimmer

……Libellula pulchella  /  Twelve-spotted Skimmer

……Libellula quadrimaculata  /  Four-spotted Skimmer

……Libellula saturata  /  Flame Skimmer

S….Macrodiplax balteata  /  Marl Pennant

S….Macromia magnifica  /  Western River Cruiser

S….Macrothemis inacuta  /  Straw-colored Sylph

? ….Macrothemis pseudimitans  /  White-tailed Sylph

……Ophiogomphus arizonicus  /  Arizona Snaketail

S….Oplonaeschna armata  /  Riffle Darner

? ….Orthemis discolor  /  Carmine Skimmer

S….Orthemis ferruginea  /  Roseate Skimmer

S….Pachydiplax longipennis  /  Blue Dasher

S….Palaemnema domina  /  Desert Shadowdamsel

S….Paltothemis lineatipes  /  Red Rock Skimmer

S….Pantala flavescens  /  Wandering Glider

S….Pantala hymenaea  /  Spot-winged Glider

S….Perithemis domitia  /  Slough Amberwing

S….Perithemis intensa  /  Mexican Amberwing

S….Perithemis tenera  /  Eastern Amberwing

S….Plathemis lydia  /  Common Whitetail

S….Plathemis subornata  /  Desert Whitetail

S….Progomphus borealis  /  Gray Sanddragon

S….Pseudoleon superbus  /  Filigree Skimmer

S….Remartinia luteipennis  /  Malachite Darner

?….Rhionaeschna californica  /  California Darner

S….Rhionaeschna dugesi  /  Arroyo Darner

……Rhionaeschna multicolor  /  Blue-eyed Darner

S….Rhionaeschna psilus  /  Turquoise-tipped Darner

S….Stylurus intricatus  /  Brimstone Clubtail

S….Stylurus plagiatus  /  Russet-tipped Clubtail

……Sympetrum corruptum  /  Variegated Meadowhawk

? ….Sympetrum danae  /  Black Meadowhawk

? ….Sympetrum illotum  /  Cardinal Meadowhawk

……Sympetrum pallipes  /  Striped Meadowhawk

S….Sympetrum semicinctum  /  Band-winged Meadowhawk

S….Sympetrum signiferum  /  Spot-winged Meadowhawk

……Sympetrum vicinum  /  Autumn Meadowhawk

S….Telebasis salva  /  Desert Firetail

? ….Tramea binotata  /  Sooty Saddlebags

S….Tramea lacerata  /  Black Saddlebags

? ….Tramea calverti  /  Striped Saddlebags

? ….Tramea lacerata  /  Black Saddlebags

S….Tramea onusta  /  Red Saddlebags

3 thoughts on “Arizona Damselflies and Dragonflies Status Update

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