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Carolina Saddlebags

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Tramea carolina

Linnaeus, 1763

Order Odonata
Suborder Anisoptera
Superfamily Libelluloidea
Family Libellulidae
Genus Tramea
Species carolina (Linnaeus, 1763) [Libellula]


This is a large handsome red species found predominantly throughout the eastern portion of the region. Its face is initially pale but becomes red and the top of the head, including the vertex, turns metallic violet in older individuals. The thorax is reddish-brown and unmarked. The wings have red veins along the front margin. The hindwing has a nearly solid dark reddish-brown band that extends out to the outer side of the anal loop. The veins in this area are red. The legs are brown basally and turn darker for most of the rest of their length. The abdomen is brownish-red, becoming bright red in mature males. Segments 8 and 9 are largely black.


Total length: 45-54 mm; abdomen: 30-36 mm; hindwing: 41-46 mm.

Similar Species

This species is similar to Red Saddlebags (T. onusta), especially in flight, but that species lacks the violet color on top of the head. Segments 8 and 9 are pale laterally and the crossband in the hindwing is smaller and generally interrupted by a larger clear stripe medially. Gloyd (1958 ) provided further distinctions between these two species.


Ponds, lakes and slow streams with thick emergent vegetation.


This species is generally not seen in the large feeding swarms in which Red and Black Saddlebags (T. lacerata ) take part. Males fly feeding and patrolling territories nearly all day. They will perch, as usual, horizontally on the tops of tall vegetation, giving them a clear view of their territory. Pairs mate while perched in vegetation or high in trees and remain there for some time. Females typically lay eggs in the manner described for the genus, but they may also oviposit alone. Females that lay eggs alone do so at a rate nearly ten times faster than those in tandem.


Southern Canada and eastern U.S. southward to Texas.