Posts Tagged ‘Blue-tipped Dancer damselfly’

Tiny Dancer

August 13, 2015

Family Coenagrionidae (Narrow-winged Damselflies) is comprised of 14 genera. Three genera are common in Northern Virginia: Argia (Dancers); Enallagma (American Bluets); and Ischnura (Forktails).

Several species of Argia are relatively common in Northern Virginia parks: Blue-tipped Dancer and Variable Dancer are featured in this post; Blue-fronted Dancer was featured in a recent blog post.

Blue-tipped Dancer

The first photo shows a Blue-tipped Dancer damselfly (Argia tibialis) perching on a sandy beach in the stream bed of Dogue Creek, Wickford Park. This individual is a male, as indicated by its coloration.

A Blue-tipped Dancer damselfly (Argia tibialis) spotted at Dogue Creek, Wickford Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

05 AUG 2015 | Wickford Park | Blue-tipped Dancer (male)

Variable Dancer

The next photo shows a Variable Dancer damselfly (Argia fumipennis) perching on vegetation along Dogue Creek, near Huntley Meadows Park. This individual is a male, as indicated by its coloration.

A Variable Dancer damselfly (Argia fumipennis) spotted at Dogue Creek near Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

05 AUG 2015 | Dogue Creek | Variable Dancer (male)

The last photo shows a mating pair of Variable Dancer damselflies (Argia fumipennis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park (HMP). The pair is in tandem (a form of guarding behavior): the male (upper-left) guides the female (lower-right) to places where she can lay eggs in vegetation (endophytic oviposition).

A mating pair of Variable Dancer damselflies (Argia fumipennis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. The pair is in tandem.

05 AUG 2015 | HMP | Variable Dancer (mating pair, in tandem)

It’s helpful to get shots of mating pairs in tandem, since males and females of the same species can look quite different.

Sidebar: Scientific Classification of Damselflies

The following concise explanation of the scientific classification of damselflies is provided to help the reader understand where Argia (Dancers) fit into the bigger picture of the Order OdonataSuborder Zygoptera (Damselflies).

There are four families of damselflies in the United States of America, although only three families occur in the mid-Atlantic USA: Broad-winged damselflies; Narrow-winged damselflies (a.k.a., Pond Damselflies); and Spreadwing damselflies.

Family Calopterygidae is comprised of two genera.

Family Coenagrionidae is comprised of 14 genera. Three genera are common in Northern Virginia: Argia (Dancers); Enallagma (American Bluets); and Ischnura (Forktails).

Family Lestidae is comprised of two genera.

  • Archilestes (e.g., Great Spreadwing)
  • Lestes (e.g., Slender Spreadwing, Southern Spreadwing, Swamp Spreadwing)

There are relatively few genera of Broad-winged Damselflies and Spreadwing Damselflies. In contrast, there are many more genera and species of Narrow-winged Damselflies — more species, including many that look similar, makes this family the most challenging to learn!

Editor’s Note: Please comment to let me know whether the preceding information is helpful.

Related Resources:

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Blue-tipped Dancer damselflies

February 28, 2015

Several Blue-tipped Dancer damselflies (Argia tibialis) were spotted at two nearby places with similar habitat: both locations are densely forested; one location is a small sandy stream with slow-to-medium current.

Blue-tipped Dancers are members of the Pond Damsels Family of damselflies. Male Blue-tipped Dancer damselflies look similar to male Orange Bluet damselflies, another species of Pond Damsel. A key field marker may be used to differentiate males of the two species: Blue-tipped Dancer is so-named because the tip of its abdomen is bluish-white; Orange Bluet has an orange-tipped abdomen.

Blue-tipped Dancer damselfly (young male)

26 June 2014 | Wickford Park/Dogue Creek | Young male

Blue-tipped Dancer damselfly (young male)

26 June 2014 | Wickford Park/Dogue Creek | Young male

All photos in this post were taken using my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 superzoom camera (superseded by Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200). The preceding photos were shot using the built-in pop-up flash; flash was off for the following photos.

Blue-tipped Dancer damselfly (male)

08 June 2012 | Huntley Meadows Park/Hike-Bike Trail | Male

Blue-tipped Dancer damselfly (male)

08 June 2012 | Huntley Meadows Park/Hike-Bike Trail | Male

Blue-tipped Dancer damselfly (male)

08 June 2012 | Huntley Meadows Park/Hike-Bike Trail | Male

Female Blue-tipped Dancer damselflies are polymorphic: a brown form (shown below); and a blue form (same pattern of markings).

Blue-tipped Dancer damselfly (female)

08 June 2012 | Huntley Meadows Park/Hike-Bike Trail | Female

Blue-tipped Dancer damselfly (female)

08 June 2012 | Huntley Meadows Park/Hike-Bike Trail | Female

Blue-tipped Dancer damselfly (female)

08 June 2012 | Huntley Meadows Park/Hike-Bike Trail | Female

It’s possible the following individual may be a blue form female Blue-tipped Dancer damselfly. Although pop-up flash was used to take these photos, more power was necessary for good exposures in the dark shadows of the forest.

Unknown damselfly

26 June 2014 | Wickford Park/Dogue Creek | Female

I consulted a couple of experts for confirmation of my tentative identification.

This one’s tough but I don’t think it’s a male Dusky [Dancer damselfly (Argia translata)]. Male Dusky can show a pale shoulder stripe when immature but I’ve not seen one with wide frontal ones. It could be a female, but the shape of the dark shoulder stripes and its coloration is not typical. I guess I lean towards a blue form female Blue-tipped although it’s tough to say if abdominal segment 10 is pale or not. The shape of the dark shoulder stripes aren’t perfect for Blue-tipped but not out of the realm of possibility. Source Credit: Mr. Ed Lam, author and illustrator of Damselflies of the Northeast.

That’s a tough one. If I had to guess I would say Blue-tipped Dancer. Lighting and angle are difficult, but sure looks like an Argia in any case. Source Credit: Mr. Chris Hobson, Natural Areas Zoologist with the Virginia Natural Heritage Program, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.

Unknown damselfly

26 June 2014 | Wickford Park/Dogue Creek | Female

Blue-tipped Dancer damselflies love timberlands and Timberlands!

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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