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Caribbean Yellowface



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Neoerythromma cultellatum

Hagen in Selys, 1876


Order Odonata
Suborder Zygoptera
Superfamily Coenagrionoidea
Family Coenagrionidae
Genus Neoerythromma
Species cultellatum (Hagen in Selys, 1876) [Enallagma]


Identification

As its common name implies males have a distinctive bright yellow face. This combined with bright blue on the thorax and abdomen will readily distinguish it from all other species in the region. Males in addition to the yellow face have a prominent bright yellow antehumeral stripe and a pair of bright blue postocular spots. The pterothorax is bright blue laterally along with parts of abdominal segments 1 and 2 and all of segments 8 and 9. The cerci are long and black with distinctly white dorsolateral-medial surfaces. The paraprocts are much shorter and strongly upturned to an apical process. The face in females is blue-green rather than yellow and the abdomen is black with blue spots on segments 8-10. The mesostigmal plates are subtriangular in shape, but nearly flat and unsculptured. The absence of a vulvar spine on segment 8 will separate it from any potentially similar looking bluets (Enallagma).

Size

Total length: 27-31 mm; abdomen: 22-25 mm; hindwing: 13-16 mm.

Similar Species

The face in Aurora Damsel (Chromagrion conditum ) is blue not yellow. No other damselfly in the south-central United States has the unique combination of blue and yellow that Caribbean Yellowface possesses.

Habitat

Ponds and slow reaches of streams or rivers with abundant floating debris.

Discussion

This species was only recently discovered in Texas. It has only been found along the Rio Grande of extreme southern Texas within the region. Virtually nothing is known about the life-history of this tropical species. Tenerals mature some distance from water in forests. Adults are elusive, remaining some distance from the shoreline. They are often associated with floating debris or vegetation where females may lay eggs, accompanied by males. I first saw these in Texas from a boat dock along the Rio Grande River where they were flying some distance from shore, no more than a few centimeters above the water along with Amelia's Threadtail. Their elusiveness, and difficulty in seeing them from shore without binoculars, has no doubt contributed to their only recently having been discovered in Texas.

Distribution

Florida and Texas south through Mexico to Venezuela; also Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica and Puerto Rico.