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Little Blue Dragonlet



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Erythrodiplax minuscula

Rambur, 1842


Order Odonata
Suborder Anisoptera
Superfamily Libelluloidea
Family Libellulidae
Genus Erythrodiplax
Species minuscula (Rambur, 1842) [Libellula]


Identification

This is the most widespread of the small dragonlet species in the region. It is similar to its southwestern counterparts, Plateau (E. basifusca ) and Red-faced (E. fusca ) Dragonlets. It can generally be distinguished in the field from either of these by its eastern distribution and the distinctive powder blue pruinose appearance of older individuals. Young males and females are greenish-brown or olivaceous. The face is olivaceous and the front of the thorax is devoid of stripes and darker than the sides. The wings are clear or with only a small basal spot in the hindwing. There is a black middorsal stripe and pair of interrupted lateral stripes on the abdomen. Mature individuals develop a powder blue pruinose appearance that envelops the body from the thorax posteriorly and terminal abdominal segments anteriorly. Abdominal segments 7-10 become entirely black. The male cerci are pale, nearly white, and the female has short but distinct, triangular, spout-like ovipositor below segment 9.

Size

Total length: 22-27 mm; abdomen: 14-17 mm; hindwing: 15-21 mm.

Similar Species

Blue Corporal (Ladona deplanata ) is larger with brown stripes basally in both wings. Similar meadowhawks (Sympetrum ) are generally larger and lack dark abdominal stripes.

Habitat

Marshy ponds, pools, lakes and slow moving streams.

Discussion

This species commonly perches low on grasses or other ground cover. They generally don't travel far, even when disturbed. Males patrol and defend small territories close to the water's edge where competition is minimal and they have an easier time escaping larger dragonflies. Mating occurs quickly, generally less than 20 seconds, followed by females laying eggs among emergent plants with males guarding.

Distribution

Eastern U.S. from New Jersey to Texas.