Suborder: Zygoptera
(Damselflies)

Family: Coenagrionidae

Western Red Damsel

Paiute Dancer
Emma's Dancer
Vivid Dancer
Taiga Bluet
River Bluet
Boreal Bluet
Tule Bluet
Alkali Bluet
Northern Bluet
Marsh Bluet
Pacific Forktail
Black-fronted Forktail
Western Forktail

Coenagrionidae: The Pond Damsels

Family Facts:

Genus: Amphiagrion
There are only two North American species in this genus, with one being found in Idaho. This damselfly is the only species in our area that is red and black in color. The thorax and abdomen are bigger in this species than other members of this family.

Amphiagrion abbreviatum- Western Red Damsel

Genus: Argia
These damselflies are stream dwellers. The naiads are shorter and stockier than other members of this family, and their shape is flattened, which makes it easier for them to crawl under rocks. The adults are more agile flyers than other members of this family, and are given the common name Dancers for their buoyant flight style. They prefer sunny, bare spots for perching, but do not perch for long periods. They can be distinguished from other members of this family by the length of the spines on the second joint of the legs. The spines are at least twice as long as the spaces between the spines. The females oviposit in wet wood, either in tandem with the male or unattended.

Argia alberta- Paiute Dancer
Argia emma- Emma's Dancer
Argia vivida- Vivid Dancer

Genus: Coenagrion
This genus is very similar to Enallagma, and in fact they share the same common name, the Bluets. The males are mostly blue and black, while the females can be brown, olive, or colored like the males. They can be distinguished from Enallagma by the nymphs having six segments in their antennae rather than seven. The members of Coenagrion have northerly distributions, and the majority of their range distribution is in Canada. The one species found in Idaho is usually found at high elevation lakes and ponds.

Coenagrion resolutum- Taiga Bluet

Genus: Enallagma
These are the "little blue damselflies" that are so numerous at weedy ponds. The males are usually blue banded with black, hence the common name Bluet. The females are either olive or brown, or are colored similarly to the males, with the exception that they have more black on the abdomen. Bluets are weak flyers, and are reluctant to venture far from cover. The nymphs are patterned in green and brown and live among aquatic vegetation. It's difficult to say what distinguishes this genus from other genera, as there seems to be more differences between species in the genus then there are between this genus and genera such as Coenagrion and Ischnura. It is probable that this genus will eventually be split into several genera.

Enallagma anna- River Bluet
Enallagma boreale- Boreal Bluet
Enallagma carunculatum- Tule Bluet
Enallagma clausum- Alkali Bluet
Enallagma cyathigerum- Northern Bluet
Enallagma ebrium- Marsh Bluet

Genus: Ischnura
These damselflies are even smaller and more slender on average than the Bluets. In the males, the abdomen is generally solid black above, with the exception of segments eight and nine, which are bright blue. The sides of the thorax are usually green. The upper surface of abdominal segment 10 is split, giving these damselflies the common name Forktails. The females are usually orange to brown in the heterochromatic form, or they are colored like the males (homeochromatic). The nymphs are very similar to those of the Bluets, and live in similar habitats.

Ischnura cervula- Pacific Forktail
Ischnura denticollis- Black-fronted Forktail
Ischnura perparva- Western Forktail


Written by Mark Lung and Stefan Sommer, 2001
Page design by Ean Harker 2001.
Original image provided by Dennis Paulson ,2001.