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Coppery Dancer

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Argia cuprea

Hagen, 1861

Order Odonata
Suborder Zygoptera
Superfamily Coenagrionoidea
Family Coenagrionidae
Genus Argia
Species cuprea (Hagen, 1861) [Agrion]


The male has brilliant cherry red eyes. The front of the head, including the labrum, clypeus and frons is metallic coppery-red. The pterothorax is a brilliant metallic red with coppery reflections and the middorsal carina is thinly lined with black. The antehumeral stripe is lacking. The sides of the thorax are blue, fading to pale yellow ventrally. The legs are black, but with a pale brown stripe on the outer surface of the femora and tibiae. There are 5 and 4 postquadrangular cells in the fore- and hindwing respectively. The first abdominal segment is blue with a black spot dorsally that may be confluent with lateral spots basally. Segments 2-7 are black with a shiny luster dorsally and basal blue rings. The black extends to the ventral side in the distal 1/5 of each segment. The rest of the abdomen is is blue laterally, fading ventrally. Segment 8 is black dorsally with extensive blue basally and laterally. The blue is interrupted laterally by a black st ripe extending to segment 10. Segments 9 and 10 are blue except for the above-mentioned lateral black stripe. The cerci are branched and about 3/4 length of paraprocts. The female is generally similar to the male, but the eyes are not bright red and the front of thorax lacks the extensive metallic coloration. The front of the head is pale yellowish. A pale antehumeral stripe extends approximately 1/2 the width of the middorsal stripe. The dark humeral stripe is twice the width of the antehumeral stripe and consists of an isolated spot at its upper end. The mesostigmal plates have strongly explanate lobes (similar to the Dusky Dancer (Argia translata). Mesepisternal tubercles are present. Abdominal segments 2-8 are black dorsally and there is a pale middorsal line extending the length of the segments. Segments 3-7 have a pale basal ring interrupted in the middle of segments 3 and 4. Segment 8 is black dorsally, often with 2 stripes, isolated by a pale area, extending the length of the s egment, or 2 basal black spots that don't extend to the end of the segment. Segment 9 has 2 basal spots dorsally that extend B= the length of the segment. Segments 8 and 9 also have a lateral black stripe. Segment 10 is nearly all blue.


Total length: 39-42 mm; abdomen: 27-34 mm; hindwing: 22-25 mm.

Similar Species

Male Coppery Dancer is the only blue damselfly with red eyes occurring in the south-central United States. Females are similar to those of Dusky Dancer (A. translata), but that species lacks the pale spot at the posterior end of the dark humeral stripe. Comanche Dancer (A. barretti ) females are also similar, but have a much narrower humeral stripe and again lack the pale spot at the posterior end.


Rivers and streams.


This species was not known from the United States until 1985. It has been taken from the Nueces and West Frio Rivers of the Texas Hill Country frequently since. Though it is the only species with red eyes and a metallic thorax there is a similar species, the Fiery-eyed Dancer (A. oenea ) in Arizona and Mexico.


Texas south to Mexico, Venezuela and Bolivia.