Damselflies (Coenagrionidae)

Aurora Damsel

Chromagrion conditum

DISCRIPTION: This is one of the biggest damselflies in our area. It is light blue with a bright yellow patch on the lower portion of its thorax.

BEHAVIOUR/ABUNDANCE: As well as being one of our biggest damselflies, the Aurora is also one of our most common. It can be found near most water, especially slow-moving or stagnant ponds where it can be seen flitting around the shore or perched on vegetation.




Azure Bluet

Enallagma aspersum

DISCRIPTION: This small, slender bluet is distinctive for its black thorax with bright blue tip.

BEHAVIOUR/ABUNDANCE: This is one of our most common bluets, and can be found near most slow-moving water.




Big Bluet

Enallagma durum

DISCRIPTION:  This relatively large damselfly can be hard to tell apart from other pond bluets. Some distinguishing characteristics, however, are the two wide black dorsal stripes on the sides of its thorax, and the arrowhead markings on the top of its abdomen.

BEHAVIOUR/ABUNDANCE:  This damsel is most often found around swampy ponds, or along slow-moving rivers. Although we have found it relatively often, it is classified as “vulnerable” in New York State.




Double-striped Bluet

Enallagma basidens

DESCRIPTION: This is a relatively small bluet that at first glance can look very similar to several other species. It has one distinguishing feature, however: the black shoulder stripe on the thorax of both males and females is divided down the center by a thin blue line

BEHAVIOUR/ABUNDANCE: We see Double-striped Bluets once in a while, and on at least one occasion in large numbers. It is rated as S3, "uncommon", in New York. It can be found around the edges of lakes and ponds usually where there is vegetation near the water.




Eastern Forktail

Ischnura verticalis

DESCRIPTION: Forktails in general are small and slender, and the Eastern Forktale is no exception. This species is easily identified by the male's green thorax and black abdomen with blue tip. Females appear in two variants, one a dull grey-blue with green eyes, the other a bright orange with black stripes and abdomen.

BEHAVIOUR/ABUNDANCE: These are probably the most common damselflies that we see during our surveys. They can be found anywhere from ponds and the edges of slow moving rivers to fields.




Eastern Red Damselfly

Amphiagrion saucium

 DESCRIPTION: This is a relatively small damselfly, easily identified by the bright red coloration of both sexes. It can look similar to the orange variant of female Eastern Forktails, but can be distinguished by its relative lack of black coloration.

BEHAVIOUR/ABUNDANCE: We have seen only one Eastern Red Damselfly, although it is not recognized as endangered in New York. It can be found around ponds or other stationary water.




Familiar Bluet

Enallagma civile

DESCRIPTION: This is a large bluet, mainly blue in coloration, but with black lines on its thorax and rings around the base of its abdominal sections. Females are typically a paler blue verging on violet. It is nearly impossible to distinguish from other bluets like the Northern, Tule, and Big in the field.

BEHAVIOUR/ABUNDANCE: We see Familiar Bluets regularly. They can be found around large, slow-moving water bodies.




Fragile Forktail

Ischnura posita

 DESCRIPTION: This is a tiny damselfly, easily distinguished from other forktails by the upside-down exclamation points on its shoulders. Males are a bright green, with females a more subdued grey-purple.

BEHAVIOUR/ABUNDANCE: We come across Fragile Forktails quite frequently. They can be found in a range of habitats, from the edges of ponds, forested swamps, and streams to open fields.




Hagen's Bluet

Enallagma hageni

DESCRIPTION: This is a small bluet. The male is mostly blue while the female is a grey-green. It is hard to distinguish from the Marsh Bluet in the field.

BEHAVIOUR/ABUNDANCE: We see Hagen's Bluets only occasionally, mostly along the edges of ponds.




Marsh Bluet

Enallagma ebrium

DESCRIPTION: This is a relatively small bluet, with alternating blue/black marking on the abdomen giving way to pure blue for the second- and third-to-last segments. It can be indistinguishable from other bluets in the field.

BEHAVIOUR/ABUNDANCE: We have seen several Marsh Bluets. They can be found around wetlands and open swamps.




Northern Bluet

Enallagma cyathigerum

DESCRIPTION: This is a fairly typical bluet, although slightly larger than most and with quite thin shoulder stripes.

BEHAVIOUR/ABUNDANCE: We have not seen many Northern Bluets, although it occurs relatively regularly in our state. It can most often be seen around still water and nearby vegetation.




Orange Bluet

Enallagma signatum

DESCRIPTION: This is the only orange bluet in our area, although female Eastern Forktails can look similar. It is orange with a mostly black abdomen.

BEHAVIOUR/ABUNDANCE: We have seen quite a few orange bluets. It can be found near all sorts of still water.




Powdered Dancer

Argia moesta

DESCRIPTION: This is one of the largest damselflies in our area. Its abdomen is mostly black, while the thorax is a distinctive powdery blue-grey.

BEHAVIOUR/ABUNDANCE: We see Powdered Dancers occasionally, and it is relatively common in our area. It can be found around medium to large rivers, ponds, and lakes.




Sedge Sprite

Nehalennia irene

DESCRIPTION: This is an extremely small, slender damselfly. It has a metallic green sheen on its abdomen and upper thorax, and a blue under-belly.

BEHAVIOUR/ABUNDANCE: We have seen Sedge Sprites occasionally, although due to their small size they are hard to spot. They can be found in wet, grassy, mostly open areas.




Skimming Bluet

Enallagma geminatum

DESCRIPTION: This is a small bluet. Its abdomen is mostly black, although it has a blue tip.

BEHAVIOUR/ABUNDANCE: We have only seen Skimming Bluets occasionally. It can be found around the edges of most types of water.




Stream Bluet

Enallagma exsulans

DESCRIPTION: This bluet can be quite hard to distinguish from similar species, but the large amount of black in its abdomen narrows the options.

BEHAVIOUR/ABUNDANCE: We see Stream Bluets quite often, mostly along the sides of streams and lakes.




Variable Dancer

Argia fumipennis

DESCRIPTION: This medium-sized dancer is distinctive because it is the only purple damselfly in our area.

BEHAVIOUR/ABUNDANCE: We see variable dancers quite frequently. They can be found around the edges of most slow or still water.




Vesper Bluet

Enallagma vesperum

DESCRIPTION: This is the only bluet in our area that has a bright yellow thorax. Its abdomen is mostly black, with a blue tip.

BEHAVIOUR/ABUNDANCE: We have only seen one Vesper Bluet. When it can be found, it is usually around ponds and lakes.




Dragonflies and Damselflies (Odonates)