Insect Identification
Insect Identification

Black Saddlebags Skimmer - (Tramea lacerata)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 11/12/2014

The Black Saddlebags dragonfly only looks like it is carrying a big load, but this advanced flier travels light.

The Black Saddlebags is a type of dragonfly known as a skimmer. Their bodies are shorter than their wingspan. In line with its family, the Black Saddlebags has spots on its wings that are shaped like two black bags meant for carrying loads. They do not carry anything and are quite agile fliers.

Males alternate their flying patterns between gliding and flapping wings. Adults may swarm (with other dragonfly species as well) in order to attack insect prey. They migrate to warmer areas in the fall.

Naiads are juveniles that live underwater. They prefer to eat small aquatic insects as that is the only insect prey they are able to get while they are still maturing into adulthood. They will try to climb up vegetation in and sticking out of water.

Adults can be found near lakes, ponds and slow-moving streams. They prefer areas that are quiet. Naiads appear green with bits of brown. They prefer the warmer, shallower waters during their life stage. In warmer climates, two generations of this species can be born a year; in colder climates, only one.

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Category: Dragonfly or Damselfly
Common name: Black Saddlebags Skimmer
Scientific Name: Tramea lacerata
Other Names: Jagged-edged Saddlebag

  Kingdom: Animalia
   Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
     Order: Odonata
      Family: Libellulidae
       Genus: Tramea
        Species: lacerata

Adult Size (Length): 45mm to 55mm (1.77in to 2.17in)

Identifying Colors: black; yellow; green; brown

Additional Descriptors: dragonfly, flying, four wings

North American Reach (Though Not Limited To*): Alabama; Alaska; Arizona; Arkansas; California; Colorado; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Hawaii; Idaho; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; Montana; Nebraska; Nevada; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New Mexico; New York; North Carolina; North Dakota; Ohio; Oklahoma; Oregon; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; South Dakota; Tennessee; Texas; Utah; Vermont; Virginia; Washington; West Virginia; Wisconsin; Wyoming; Alberta; Manitoba; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec; Saskatchewan; Mexico

* Keep in mind that insect reach is not governed by lines on a map and therefore may appear in areas/regions/states beyond those listed above.