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red damsel complex

red damsel complex (Amphiagrion abbreviatum/saucium)
Photo © Paul Dacko

Features and Behaviors

This small (3/4 to 1 inch), slender, fiery red-orange damselfly is the only one like it in our region. It has large, orange eyes; clear wings with black veins; and a bright, red-orange abdomen that ends in a black tip. Males appear in two different morphs. They either have a blue face; and a hairy, blue thorax with a white underside. Or a black face; darker eyes; a hairy, black thorax; and a shorter, more robust abdomen. Females have dark orange face and an orange abdomen that is lighter underneath. At this time, the listed characteristics may describe two unique species (abbreviatum/saucium) but more study is needed in our region to differentiate the two. For now, they should be considered saucium.

This dragonfly occurs in the northern half of the state from May to August. They inhabit boggy areas with lots of dense vegetation. Little is known about their reproductive behavior and feeding habits. Mating pairs deposit eggs together on floating vegetation. 

Illinois Range


​Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Odonata
Family: Coenagrionidae

Illinois Status: common, native