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Pseudoleon superbus

Hagen, 1861


Order Odonata
Suborder Anisoptera
Superfamily Libelluloidea
Family Libellulidae
Genus Pseudoleon
Species superbus (Hagen, 1861) [Celithemis]


Identification

This dark species is found throughout the southwestern parts of Texas and New Mexico. Young individuals have a pale face that quickly becomes black with age. The eyes are light with dark longitudinal stripes. The thorax is initially tan with numerous darker brown stri pes, becoming diffusely black with age. The wings are variably patterned with black, but always with a wide dark band at the nodus. Males usually have more black in their wings, often with the hindwing becoming entirely black except for the clear apical tip and the forewing black except for the basal half. The legs are brown but darken with age. The abdomen is brown, marked with a series of "V" marks outlined internally by a thinner pale line on segments 3-7. This pattern becomes obscured by an almost iridescent black color in males.

Size

Total length: 34-45 mm; abdomen: 21-29 mm; hindwing: 30-36 mm.

Similar Species

Few other dragonflies in our region are as dark. Mature males may be entirely black except for the clear area basally in the forewing and the wingtips. Black-winged Dragonlet (Erythrodiplax funerea ) is more slender with black in the wings extending out to half way between the nodus and pterostigma. Band-winged Dragonlet (E. umbrata ) clear basal areas in both wings.

Habitat

Desert ponds and slow streams.

Discussion

Typically perches on the ground or on rocks with the wings characteristically depressed below the rest of the body. They can be wary however, and can rapidly take flight from this position, especially on hot days. Males are territorial with numerous midair skirmishes. Females are commonly seen fluttering low around grasses and roots floating in ponds. They lay eggs by hovering over the water and then "thrusting" the abdomen into algal mats floating on the surface. Females are commonly interrupted by pursuing males during oviposition, whereupon they immediately stop and flee the area.

Distribution

Southwestern U.S. and Mexico south to Costa Rica.