Sonoran Desert Odonata

Surprisingly, the Sonoran Desert (Arizona and Mexico) hosts a great diversity of aquatic insect species including dragonflies and damselflies. Even though surface waters are few and far between in the desert they are mostly not populated by predatory fish and are temporary in nature. This gives a great advantage to insects which can fly great distances to colonize very productive pools and streams. Dragonflies perch with their four, similar membranous wings outspread, parallel to ground. Damselflies which are usually smaller, daintier versions of dragonflies, mostly hold their wings folded over their backs. This guide shows but a few species ... more will be added later.

Flame Skimmer
Libellula saturata

Brick-red basal half of wings and all of abdomen. Common along flowing waterways in the Sonoran Desert, but can wander far from water. More info

Neon Skimmer
Libellula croceipennis

Bright orange-red of male's abdomen and thorax is striking. Males protect segments of riparian streams with shallow, flowing water. More info

Red Rock Skimmer
Paltothemis lineatipes

Orange-red color to basal third of wings. Abdomen red with black banding. Riparian habitats. More info

Roseate Skimmer
Orthemis ferruginea

Males are roseate-pink color and wings are mostly clear of marks. Near ponds and slow, shallow, water. More info

Blue Dasher
Pachydiplax longipennis

Wings usually clear or with a bit of amber coloring at base. This is a male. More info

Western Pondhawk
Erythemis collocata

This dragonfly is freshly emerged from the aquatic nymph stage. More info

Variegated Meadowhawk
Sympetrium corruptum

Wings mostly clear. Body may be pink, gray, white with dark gray. Varied says it. Common. More info

Green Darner
Anax junius

Large emerald green dragonflies capable of strong flight and long distance migrations. More info

Red Saddlebags
Tramea onusta

Body and abdomen are deep red. Wings are clear except for a reddish splotch at base of wings. Riparian habitats. More info

Mexican Amberwing
Perithemis intensa

Body and wings are rich, golden brown/amber color. Small to medium sized dragonfly. Wings may have some dark markings also. More info

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Apache Skimmer
Libellula comanche

Males sky blue with a white face. On the leading edge of the wing there's a small white patch. Patrols near shallow water along marsh or pond edges. More info

Filigree Skimmer
Pseudoleon superbus
 © by Mike Plagens

Intricate black markings on wings looking like filigree. Stays close to flowing water in riparian habitat. More info

Blue-eyed Darner
Rhionaeschna multicolor

Large, sky-blue dragonfly that frequents wastewater ponds and slow back waters along rivers. More info

Great Spreadwing
Archilestes grandis

But this damselfly, an exception, holds its wings horizontal, spread parallel to surface. Great Spreadwing has a yellow stripe on sides of thorax. More info

Gray Sand Dragon
Progomphus borealis
 © by Mike Plagens

One of the club-tails - note enlarged tip to abdomen. Abdomen with alternate bands of black and yellow. Rarely flies far from water. More info

California Dancer
Argia agrioides
Argia sp. © by Mike Plagens

Males are bright sky blue and black. Wings held up off abdomen. More info

Familiar Bluet
Enallagma civile

Bright blue and very slender body supports folded delicate wings over back and overlapping abdomen. Common near ponds and pools. More info

Hetaerina sp.
 © by Mike Plagens

A Damselfly holds wings vertical, folded over back. Ruby coloring towards base of wings. Weak flier near slow riparian streams. More info

Desert Firetail
Telebasis salva

The male's long, slender abdomen is fiery red as is the head and thorax. Associated with shallow ponds. More info

Rambur's Forktail
Ischnura ramburii

Perches with wings folded over back. Males usually w/ thorax green and blue, Blue spot on head behind eye, abdomen segment #8 entirely blue. More info

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2016