powdered dancer

(Argia moesta)

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern

powdered dancer


N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed




Early June to early September


Streams and rivers with emergent rocks and large lakes with rocky shores


Total Length: 1½ to 1¾



This is a common and widespread, medium to large sized damselfly. At 1½ to 1¾ it is the largest dancer damselfly (genus Argia) and the largest narrow-winged or pond damselfly (family Coenagrionidae).

The thorax on immature males is tan with two broad, dark stripes on the upper (dorsal) surface. It becomes dark brown with age. On older males it is almost completely covered with a chalky white, waxy substance (pruinescence).

The abdomen is brown on young males except for a dorsal pale area on segment 1 and a narrow pale ring at the base of segments 3 through 7. Segments 9 and 10 are pale gray. The base color darkens with age, becoming almost black on older individuals. On the male there are two pairs of claspers at the tip of t he abdomen. The upper pair (cerci) are shorter than the lower pair (paraprocts). On the female there is no vulvular spine on the lower part of abdominal segment 8.

The wings are clear and are distinctly narrowed (stalked) at the base. The stigmas are short, less than twice as long as wide, and there are two cells below the stigma. There are only two cross veins between the base of the wing and the wing notch (nodus). The median vein intersection, where the M3 vein rises to meet the M1 vein, occurs after the nodus, closer to the nodus than the basal cross vein (arculus).

The legs are short, pale, and armed with spines. The spines on the lower leg (tibia) are long, twice as long as the space between the spines.

The female has two color forms, one with a brown thorax, the other with a blue thorax. The shoulder stripes are hair thin. The abdomen is brown with a wide, pale dorsal stripe and narrow, dark lateral stripes.


In our area, the whitish pruinosity on the male is unique to this species.

Blue-fronted dancer (Argia apicalis) female is smaller and abdominal segments 8 through 10 are darker.

Larval Food


Adult Food

Flying insects

Life Cycle

Mating takes place throughout the summer. The mating couple descends, still attached, into water to deposit eggs on submerged wood and algae-covered rocks. The pair may remain underwater for an hour or more. The eggs hatch and the larva overwinters. The following year the young adults (tenerals) emerge on rocks or logs above the water line. After emerging it takes two weeks to develop adult coloration.


The wings are held over the abdomen when at rest. They perch in open, sunny places, especially rocks.

Distribution Distribution Map  

Sources: 7, 18, 29.



Unlike American bluets (genus Enallagma) dancers are easy to identify in the field by their colors and the pattern of their markings.



Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies)



Zygoptera (damselflies)






Coenagrionidae (narrow-winged damselflies)




powdered dancer







On insect wings, the cross vein near the base of the wing that connects the radius (R) and the cubitus (Cu) veins.



One of a pair of small sensory appendages at the end of the abdomen of many insects and other arthropods. In Odonata, one of the upper pair of claspers. Plural: cerci.



On a dragonfly, the small notch on the lead edge of each wing about halfway between the body and the tip.



In some insects, one of the lower pair of plate-like appendages on each side of the anus. In Odonata, one of the lower pair of claspers.



A waxy bloom that covers the underlying coloration and gives a dusty or frosty appearance.



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 Odonata, a thickened, dark or opaque cell near the tip of the wing on the leading edge.



The fourth segment of an insect leg, after the femur and before the tarsus (foot).







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  powdered dancer    





  Powdered Dancer (Argia moesta)
Bill Keim
  Powdered Dancer (Argia moesta)  
  Argia moesta (Powdered Dancer)
Allen Chartier
  Argia moesta (Powdered Dancer)  
  Powdered Dancer Damselfly
Ed McAskill

Uploaded on Sep 17, 2011





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  Powdered Dancer doing push ups
Meena Haribal

Uploaded on Jul 13, 2009

Yoga exercises by Powdered Dancer Argia moesta





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