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Dragonly Abdominal Patterns

Color and Pattern:The overall color of the abdomen is important.  Also note the presence of spots and stripes, their pattern, and where on the abdomen they are present.

A dorsal stripe is common, especially in many Skimmers.  It may be straight or consist of a row of triangles

A number of species have rings or bands such as this Tiger Spiketail

Spots may be separated or touching, as in this Illinois River Cruiser

Darners and other species have rows of spots that may be all the same color or may vary

Abdominal Shape: There is much variation in the shape of the abdomen.  In addition to differences between species, females tend to have stockier abdomens than males.

Many species have relatively wide straight abdomens with little if any widening, such as this Robust Baskettail

In other cases the abdomen may be slender and straight, like this Fine-lined Emerald.

The abdomen may be clubbed, although usually less than this Blackwater Clubtail.  Caution: Not all "Clubtails" have clubs and not everything with a club is a "Clubtail".

Some species show a pronounced constriction at the base of the abdomen.


In the Darner family, the dorsal view of abdominal segment 2 can be characterized by a unique
color patterning which is an aid in the identification of some species.  Other species may show unique patterns of spots, stripes and oblique shapes on abdominal segments 3-10.  Unfortunately, the older the insect becomes, the less reliable the patterning technique becomes.  Therefore close examination of the genitalia might be your only source for accurate identification.

In the Clubtail  family,  the size of the club and the pattern of dorsal and lateral spots on Abdominal Segments 7-10 can be helpful in distinguishing some of the "similar species".

In the some members of the Emerald family, a bronzy green coloration or reflection can be seen on the abdomen.

Most Spiketails are distinguished by differences in abdominal patterns.  Depending upon the species, the yellow on black abdominal markings may form rings, a single row of dorsal spots or paired rows of lateral spots or markings.

© 2020 Sheryl Chacon Search