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Western Red Damsel

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Amphiagrion abbreviatum

Selys, 1876

Order Odonata
Suborder Zygoptera
Superfamily Coenagrionoidea
Family Coenagrionidae
Genus Amphiagrion
Species abbreviatum (Selys, 1876) [Pyrrhosoma]


The head and thorax of the male is profusely hairy. The head is mostly dark red in younger individuals, changing to almost entirely black with age. A small amount of red may persist around the antennal bases, ocelli, occipital ridge and eyes. Postocular spots are generally lacking. The pterothorax is nearly all black, but sometimes the metathorax is red except for sutures. There is a prominent ventral tubercle behind the metathoracic legs. The legs themselves are short and vary from red to yellow with black stripes, becoming increasingly darker with age, especially proximally. The wings are clear with light red venation and a dark pterostigma. The abdomen is noticeably short, not much longer than the wings, and red with black apical rings on segments 3-6. Black dorsolateral spots are often visible increasing in size on segments 2-7. Segments 8-10 are black with only a thin red middorsal line. The cerci and paraprocts are light red. The cerci are strongly slanted downward. The female is uniformly tan, often lacking dark pigmentation. There is generally a dark dorsolateral spots present at the apices of the abdominal segments. Occasionally, paired, dorsal, subapical spots are visible on segments 3, 4 or 5 to 9. Ther e is a dark crescent on the frontal suture and darker spots between the ocelli. Occasionally outlines of large postocular spots are visible. The caudal appendages are pale.


Total length: 23-28 mm; abdomen: 17-21 mm; hindwing: 15-19 mm.

Similar Species

Duckweed (Telebasis byersi ) and Desert Firetails (T. salva ) have a broad black arrow pointing posteriorly on the dorsum of the thorax. The top of the head, legs and thorax are pale in the red-form females of Painted Damsel (Hesperagrion heterodoxum).


Sunlit, shallow, hard-bottomed marshy ponds or sloughs with vertical perches.


Western Red Damsel is only found in the northern and western limits of our area. One study found Western Red Damsel was conspicuously absent from forested areas, apparently due to the absence of sunlit vertical perches. Western Red Damsel roosts parallel to these vertical perches at night and press their bodies closer to the perches in response to intruders during the early morning before they are warm enough to fly.


Western U.S. from Baja through California north to British Columbia, east to Saskatchewan and south to Oklahoma and New Mexico.