black saddlebags

(Tramea lacerata)

Conservation Status
black saddlebags
Photo by Nancy Herfert
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
           
           
           
           
           
 
Description
 
 

Black saddlebags is a medium-sized to large skimmer. It is common in southeastern Minnesota, rare in the forested northeast, and uncommon or absent in the rest of the state. Adults are 1 to 23 16 long and have a wingspan of 3¾ to 4. Females are larger than males. The body is teardrop-shaped and streamlined.

The thorax is brown with a black oval spot on each side. The upperside is densely covered with long, straight hairs.

The abdomen on males is mostly black. On females and juveniles there are whitish or yellowish spots on the upper (dorsal) side of abdominal segments 3 through 7 (S3–S7), the spots on S6 and S7 especially large. On the mature male these spots fade to black except on S7 and often S6.

The forewing is slender and clear except for a small, black cell (stigma) on the leading edge near the tip. The hindwing is much broader than the forewing. It has a black stigma and an irregular but consistently shaped black spot covering the inner quarter of the wing. The shape is often compared to a theater comedy mask in profile. The inner margin of the hindwing is rounded, not notched. The forewing and hindwing triangles are a different shape.

The face on males is black, on females and juveniles yellowish-brown. The compound eyes meet along a long margin at the top of the head. The hind margin of the compound eye is straight or only very slightly lobed.

The legs are black.

 
     
 

Size

 
 

Total Length: 1 to 23 16

Wingspan: 3¾ to 4

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
     
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Ponds, lakes, marshes, backwaters of broad rivers, ditches, and sometimes temporary ponds, all with submerged vegetation

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Season

 
 

Early June through September

 
     
 

Behavior

 
 

Males sometimes feed in large swarms.

 
     
 

Life Cycle

 
 

Mating takes place on branched of trees near water. With the male hovering nearby, the female deposits eggs, one at a time, by dipping the tip of her abdomen in slow-moving or stagnant water.

 
     
 

Nymph Food

 
 

Aquatic insect larvae and tadpoles.

 
     
 

Adult Food

 
 

Small flying insects

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

7, 18, 24, 27, 29, 30, 72.

 
  9/7/2017      
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Uncommon to rare

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
 

Order

Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies)  
 

Suborder

Epiprocta  
  Infraorder Anisoptera (dragonflies)  
 

Superfamily

Cavilabiata  
 

Family

Libellulidae (skimmers)  
 

Genus

Tramea  
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

 

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

black saddlebags

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Stigma

In plants, the portion of the female part of the flower that is receptive to pollen. In Lepidoptera, an area of specialized scent scales on the forewing of some skippers, hairstreaks, and moths. In other insects, a thickened, dark, or opaque cell on the leading edge of the wing.

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
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Nancy Herfert

 
           
  Is this a Widow Skimmer? I’ve never seen this in my yard in Plymouth, MN before. If you’re able to help me ID this, I’d appreciate it. Thank you.   black saddlebags  
           
        black saddlebags  
           
 
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slideshow

       
 
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Other Videos
 
  Black Saddlebags Dragonfly, "Saddle Bags" - September 14, 2013
Don Gagnon
 
   
 
About

Published on Sep 19, 2013

Black Saddlebags (Tramea lacerata) Dragonfly, Butterfly Garden, Mass Audubon Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary, 1280 Horseneck Road, Westport, Massachusetts, Saturday morning, September 14, 2013, 9:42 AM - Canon PowerShot SX50 HS MVI_47322

Music: "Saddle Bags-Teletunez" by Teletunez (Other, 1:20)

 
  Weird Bug with "6-Wings": "Black Saddlebags Dragonfly"
OrganicGarden123
 
   
 
About

Published on Aug 21, 2011

The "black saddlebags" are really part of the lower pair of wings, so really it is just 4 wings, that looks like 6.

 
  Female Black Saddlebags Dragonfly Release in Pleasantville, New York
Melvin Wei
 
   
 
About

Published on Sep 20, 2012

My father caught a female black saddlebags dragonfly and released it in this video on a lemon plant. The leaves were too slippery so the dragonfly struggled to get a foothold and fell off, but before it reached the ground it started a slow ascent upwards and flew up to about 10 meters and beyond above the ground, disappearing into the the cloudy sky...

Black saddlebags (Tramea lacerata) dragonflies are fairly common. Adults, especially the males, congregate in swarms. Some populations of this dragonfly undertake migrations.

 
  Tramea lacerata
Urban Life
 
   
 
About

Published on Sep 24, 2016

black saddlebags skimmer

 
  Tramea lacerata (Dragonfly Nymph) feeding on a small Gambusia.
comradetortoise
 
   
 
About

Published on Aug 17, 2013

Just a little Macro Video practice, taken on a white background on my desk at home. If you have any doubts about how horrifying dragonfly nymphs can be to small fish, tadpoles, or other invertebrates... well... doubt no more.

 
       

 

Camcorder

 
 
Visitor Sightings
 
           
 

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  name withheld
6/12/2019

Location: Chaska MN

   
  Nancy Herfert
9/3/2017

Location: Plymouth, MN

Is this a Widow Skimmer? I’ve never seen this in my yard in Plymouth, MN before. If you’re able to help me ID this, I’d appreciate it. Thank you.

black saddlebags  
  John Valo
9/3/2017

The dragonfly in your photos is a black saddlebags (Tramea lacerata).

 
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings
 
   

 

 

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