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Aurora Damsel



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Chromagrion conditum

Hagen in Selys, 1876


Order Odonata
Suborder Zygoptera
Superfamily Coenagrionoidea
Family Coenagrionidae
Genus Chromagrion
Species conditum (Hagen in Selys, 1876) [Erythromma?]


Identification

The head of the male is largely black dorsally with a pale blue face. The pterothorax is blue with a black middorsal stripe widening posteriorly to the humeral suture. Their is a black hairline humeral stripe extending the full-length of the suture. The metepisternum is blue, becoming yellow anteriorly extending into a bright yellow metepimeron. The bottom of the thorax is white becoming pruinose with age. There are 3 postquadrangular cells in both the fore- and hindwings. The legs are long and largely black with pale yellow on the outer femoral and inner tibial surfaces. The abdomen is long, slender, blue and spreadwing-like with black maculation. The first segment is blue with a basal black spot. The black middorsal stripe on segment 2 extends the full-length of the segment, widening posteriorly. Segments 3-7 are black dorsally, with only a pale basal ring. The lateral areas of the segments are blue with black expanding apically from the top. Segments 8-9 are blue with a thin black middorsal line widening apically. There are a pair of black subapical spots on segment 8 laterally. The ventrolateral region of segments 8-9 and all of 10 are black. The cerci are decurved, black and distinctly forcipate when viewed from the top. The black paraprocts are long, blunt and nearly straight. The female is colored very similar to the male, but with yellow-green rathern than blue. The mesostigmal plates are broad and triangular, with a prominent ridge along the posterior and medial borders. The pale basal rings on abdominal segments 3-7 are generally less distinct. Segments 8-10 are entirely black, except for a pale ventrolateral stripe.

Size

Total length: 32-38 mm; abdomen: 36-32 mm; hindwing: 20-26 mm.

Similar Species

Aurora Damsel may initially appear as a bluet (Enallagma), but the bright yellow on the sides of the thorax is distinctive and unique among the damselflies in the south-central United States. Caribbean Yellowface (Neoerythromma cultellatum ) is a blue damselfly with yellow restricted to the face and top of the thorax. There ranges also do not overlap. There are spreadwings with yellow on the sides of the thorax.

Habitat

Sheltered, slow-moving spring-fed streams, brooks, and occasionally pools and bogs.

Discussion

One report, mentions males of this species patrolling low over ditches of a cranberry bog, "an environment that would seem not particularly well-suited to aquatic life." This species may be confused in the field with spreadwings because of their general appearance and tendency to spread their wings when perched. This is a nearly unique characteristic among pond damsel genera. One study found that males of a North Carolina population werewould often vacate their perches without defensive activity when apparently not searching for females. Mating averaged 36 minutes with an additional 67 minutes spent in tandem, and almost half of this time was spent in explorat ory activity. Eggs are laid with the male and female in tandem. Another study reported numerous pairs laying eggs, in aquatic plants just beneath the surface of the water. Neither sex ever completely submerges themselves.

Distribution

Eastern U.S. from Georgia north to Canada; west to Wisconsin and south to Arkansas.