Suborder: Anisoptera
(Dragonflies)

Family: Libellulidae
Western Pondhawk
Hudsonian Whiteface
Dot-tailed Whiteface
Red-waisted Whiteface
Comanche Skimmer
Eight-spotted Skimmer
Chalk-fronted Corporal
Common Whitetail
Hoary Skimmer
Twelve-spotted Skimmer
Four-spotted Skimmer
Flame Skimmer
Desert Whitetail
Blue Dasher
Wandering Glider
Variegated Meadowhawk
Saffron-winged Meadowhawk
Black Meadowhawk
Cardinal Meadowhawk
Cherry-faced Meadowhawk
Red-veined Meadowhawk
White-faced Meadowhawk
Western Meadowhawk
Striped Meadowhawk
Yellow-legged Meadowhawk
Black Saddlebags

Libellulidae: The Skimmers

Family Facts:

Genus:Erythemis
Most members of this genus are found in the tropics. The abdomen is slender and triangular in cross-section. The spines on the front of the legs are unusually long. Only one species is known to occur in Idaho.

Erythemis collacata- Western Pondhawk

Genus:Leucorrhinia
These dragonflies are mostly black in color, and all but one species have red markings. They are small, with slender abdomens. They have the most northerly distribution of any genus in this family, and are the most common dragonflies over much of Canada and Alaska. In the United States, most species are found at high elevations. Only one species, L. intacta, is found at lower elevations and in warmer climates. They are often found near peat bogs and sedge marshes. Three species are known to occur in Idaho.

Leucorrhinia hudsonica- Hudsonian Whiteface
Leucorrhinia intacta- Dot-tailed Whiteface
Leucorrhinia proxima- Red-waisted Whiteface

Genus: Libellula
These are medium-sized to large dragonflies with stout abdomens. In Idaho, most species are black or brown with yellow markings, with the exception of older adult males, which turn a powdery whitish blue. This whitish-blue coating is called pruinosity, and dragonflies that have it are said to be pruinose. The only species in our area in which the males do not become pruinose is the four-spotted skimmer (L. quadrimaculata). Nine species of Libellula are known to occur in Idaho.

Libellula comanche- Comanche Skimmer
Libellula forensis- Eight-spotted Skimmer
Libellula julia- Chalk-fronted Corporal
Libellula [Plathemis] lydia- Common Whitetail
Libellula nodisticta- Hoary Skimmer
Libellula pulchella- Twelve-spotted Skimmer
Libellula quadrimaculata- Four-spotted Skimmer
Libellula saturata- Flame Skimmer
Libellula [Plathemis] subornata- Desert Whitetail

Genus: Pachydiplax
This genus contains only one species, a small species in which the pruinose males resemble Erythemis. They can be distinguished from Erythemis by their smaller size and striped thorax. The abdomen is about the same width as the thorax across the back. The larvae are bright green on the underside.

Pachydiplax longipennis- Blue Dasher

Genus: Pantala
This genus consists of two species in North America, one of which is found in Idaho. These dragonflies are characterized by their large, triangular hind wings. Both the forewings and hind wings appear large in relation to their bodies. The coloration is orange to brown. They travel long distances, and store fat in their abdomens to provide energy for their migrations. In their migrations, they search out seasonal ponds in which to lay eggs. The naiads feed voraciously and grow very quickly in order to mature before the ponds dry up.

Pantala flavescens- Wandering Glider

Genus: Sympetrum
These are relatively small dragonflies with slender abdomens. With the exception of S. danae, the black meadowhawk, they are all more or less red in color. They are found mainly at ponds and lakes, usually perched on vegetation or rocks. With the exception of S. illotum, the cardinal meadowhawk, these dragonflies emerge relatively late in the summer, and are most common in late summer and early fall. The Latin name Sympetrum means "with rock" and is derived from their habit of basking on rocks to absorb heat early in the day. Ten species of Sympetrum are known to occur in Idaho.

Sympetrum corruptum- Variegated Meadowhawk
Sympetrum costiferum- Saffron-winged Meadowhawk
Sympetrum danae- Black Meadowhawk
Sympetrum illotum- Cardinal Meadowhawk
Sympetrum internum- Cherry-faced Meadowhawk
Sympetrum madidum- Red-veined Meadowhawk
Sympetrum obtrusum- White-faced Meadowhawk
Sympetrum occidentale- Western Meadowhawk
Sympetrum pallipes- Striped Meadowhawk
Sympetrum vicinum- Yellow-legged Meadowhawk

Genus: Tramea
These are large dragonflies with long wings in relation to their bodies, and have large triangular rear wings similar to those of the gliders. The wings have brown or black markings on their bases that resemble saddlebags, hence the common name saddlebags. They also migrate, like the gliders, but lay their eggs in permanent ponds and lakes that are heavily vegetated. Only one species is known to occur in Idaho.

Tramea lacerata- Black Saddlebags


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