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Red-tailed Pennant

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Brachymesia furcata

Hagen, 1861

Order Odonata
Suborder Anisoptera
Superfamily Libelluloidea
Family Libellulidae
Genus Brachymesia
Species furcata (Hagen, 1861) [Erythemis]


This species is found in the southern portions of Texas and is distinctive from the other two tropical pennants because of a relatively short abdomen, distinctly shorter than the wings, that becomes brilliant red in mature individuals. The face is yellow or red and the prothorax is bilobed and covered by a dense fringe of long hairs. The pterothorax is brown, unmarked and densely clothed with short hairs. Th e wings are clear with a hint of yellow basally in the forewing and a larger spot in the hindwing. The legs are brown becoming black distally. The abdomen is swollen basally and strongly compressed, tapering towards the tip. It is bright red in older males and some females, but usually yellowish-brown in the latter.


Total length: 38-46 mm; abdomen: 23-30 mm; hindwing: 30-36 mm.

Similar Species

Mayan Setwing (Dythemis maya ) has a longer abdomen with orange in the basal fifth of the hindwing. Flame (Libellula saturata ) and Neon (L. croceipennis ) Skimmers are larger and have extensive brown basally on the wings. Tropical king skimmers (Orthemis ) are much larger and lack any color at their wing bases.


Ponds, lakes and ditches with permanent or semipermanent water including brackish waters.


This species frequently forages from atop bushes and tall grasses. Males when not patrolling perch on twigs or other vegetation extending out over the water. The species may be common around cattle tanks and resaca's of south Texas. Pairs mate for a short period of 15 seconds, then the male guards the female as she dips the eggs in the water along the shoreline.


Southwestern U.S. and southern Florida through Central America to Chile and Argentina.