Aurora Damsels

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Filed under Outdoor Notes

May 14, 2012

There are several species of damselfly that live in and around our local wet areas. They can be extremely difficult to tell apart, and I am often left uncertain as to exactly what I have seen. Some, however, are pretty unmistakable.

One of easiest to identify has to be the Aurora Damsel (Chromagrion conditum). The Aurora Damsels are one of our first large damselflies to emerge. They are big  (for a damselfly), and the thorax, with its wavy blue pattern on top and wash of yellow below, is diagnostic.

Aurora Damselfly close up

The combination of the yellow and the wavy blue line are diagnostic.

Note also the nifty black spats on the blue section of the abdomen.

Aurora Damsel (Chromagrion conditum)

Aurora Damsel (Chromagrion conditum), male.

The Aurora is the only member of its genus in North America.1

Aurora Damsels (Chromagrion conditum) in tandem.

Aurora Damsels in tandem.

They can mate for more than a half an hour, and have been observed flying in tandem for more than an hour while the female lays eggs.2 The females will completely submerge their abodmens, and I have often seen them ovipositing on submerged vegetation.

Aurora Damsels ovipositing

Aurora Damsels laying eggs.

Locally, I find them in still water settings. Several references list them in streams, but I have only seen them in backwater. Apparently, the nymph is unique, but I have yet to see one. Odonate (dragonflies and damselflies) immature forms are on my photographic “to do” list—maybe next spring.

If you’re interested in Damselflies, we are fortunate in the Northeast to have an outstanding reference by Ed Lam:

  1. Why Aurora? I have no idea. Perhaps the colors reminded someone of the Aurora Borealis—although that is more green and red. Aurora was the Greek goddess of Dawn, sister to the sun and the moon. Her husband was (eventually) a grasshopper named Tithonus. However, I have never noticed that these damsels are particularly early in their daily activities; nor, to my knowledge, are they partial to grasshoppers. []
  2. “Chromagrion conditum, Aurora Damsel,” Insects of West Virginia. [accessed 14 May 2012]. []

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