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Red Saddlebags (Tramea onusta)

Detailing the identifying qualities of the Red Saddlebags, including physical features and territorial reach.

 Updated: 1/30/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©

  Red Saddlebags  
Picture of Red-Saddlebags

The fiery red patches on the hindwings of the Red Saddlebags, fast-flying Skimmer, are flashy and bright, making it easier to spot.

Skimmers are a group of dragonfly that are commonly found across the continent. They come in a variety of colors. Red Saddlebags skimmers have roundish red patches of color on their transparent wings. The placement and shape of these patches resemble saddlebags carried by horses or mules. Males have a red body (abdomen) while females have an orange-brown body. Males are territorial and fly the perimeter to check boundaries for infringement.

Like most skimmers, they circulate near slow-moving water: ponds, creeks, small streams, lagoons and lakes. Females lay fertilized eggs in the water. The hatchlings look very different from their adult form and are called naiads. They eat insects and other aquatic animals until they are ready to molt into their winged adult form. Adults are most active from late spring to mid-autumn. Warmer climates will see longer spans of activity than colder ones.

Red Saddlebags Information

Category: Dragonfly or Damselfly
Common Name: Red Saddlebags
Scientific Name: Tramea onusta
Other Name(s): Red-Mantled Saddlebags

Taxonomy Hierarchy

 Arrow graphic Kingdom: Animalia
  Arrow graphic Phylum: Arthropoda
   Arrow graphic Class: Insecta
    Arrow graphic Order: Odonata
     Arrow graphic Family: Libellulidae
      Arrow graphic Genus: Tramea
       Arrow graphic Species: onusta

Size, Identifying Tags and Territorial Reach

Size (Adult, Length): Size (Adult, Length): 39 mm to 46 mm (1.521 inches to 1.794 inches)
Identifying Colors: red, brown, black
Additional Descriptors: fire, spots, ruby, garnet, patches, fast, flying

North American Territorial Reach (Though Not Limited To): Alabama; Arkansas; California; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New Mexico; New York; North Carolina; Ohio; Oklahoma; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; Tennessee; Texas; Vermont; Virginia; West Virginia; Wisconsin; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec; Saskatchewan; Mexico

A Note About Territorial Reach: Keep in mind that an insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above. Insects are driven by environmental factors, food supplies and mating patterns and do not nescessarily work within hard-and-fast territorial lines like we humans do.

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