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Libellula saturata

Uhler, 1857


Order Odonata
Suborder Anisoptera
Superfamily Libelluloidea
Family Libellulidae
Genus Libellula
Species saturata Uhler, 1857 [Libellula]


Identification

This is a dull orange southwestern species with a light brown face in young individuals that quickly becomes bright red with age. The stocky thorax and abdomen are brick red and lack lateral stripes. Tenerals and females have a tan thorax and abdomen. The wings have red veins and an amber patch that extends out to the pterostigma. There is a darker brown stripe midbasally in the hindwing. The legs are red with black spurs. The caudal appendages are red and segment 8 in the female is expanded laterally.

Size

Total length: 52-60 mm; abdomen: 32-40 mm; hindwing: 41-45 mm.

Similar Species

Neon Skimmer (L. croceipennis ) is similar, but the amber color in the wings is not as extensive in that sepcies and does not extend beyond the nodus. Neon Skimmer also lacks the darker brown stripe covering the midbasal space in the hindwing. Mayan Setwing (Dythemis maya ) has a much more slender body. Golden-winged (L. auripennis ) and Needham's Skimmer (L. needhami ) have a black middorsal stripe running down the abdomen. Female and young Roseate (Orthemis ferruginea ) and Orange-bellied (O. discolor ) Skimmers both have lateral thoracic markings.

Habitat

Ponds, lakes and slow streams, including artificial ponds.

Discussion

This conspicuous dragonfly commands the notice of even the most casual observer. Males are found searching long stretches of streams for potential mates or they are seen perched on tall vegetation near the ponds and pools used by females for egg laying. Males will warn off intruders by flying towards and then along with them in an ascending flight with only one male returning to the perch. Females lay eggs in a similar manner to Neon Skimmer, by throwing water along with the eggs towards the shore. Males will guard females from a perch for only a short time after mating in flight. Males tend to occur at areas along streams where receptive females are likely to visit, both seasonally and during the course of the day. Both of these observations indicate male mate-searching patterns in this species are sexually s elected. The small disjunct population in Houston, Harris Co., Texas, represents the easternmost record for this species, likely accidentally introduced as larvae with aquatic plants (Honig pers. comm.).

Distribution

Western U.S. and Mexico.