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Black Saddlebags Skimmer (Tramea lacerata)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Black Saddlebags Skimmer

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

Updated: 01/02/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The Black Saddlebags is a type of dragonfly known as a skimmer. Their bodies are shorter than their wingspan. The Black Saddlebags skimmer has a large black blotch on each wing near the body. It is shaped like the leather sack seen on horses and mules carrying loads. Huge reddish eyes are positioned in the front of the head. Black Saddlebags are quite agile fliers. Males alternate their flying patterns between gliding and flapping wings. Adults may swarm together, and among other dragonfly species as well, in order to attack insect prey. They migrate to warmer areas in the fall.

Females lay eggs on the water. Juveniles are called naiads and they live underwater during this stage of life. They eat small aquatic insects since they are limited by their environment. They may try to climb up vegetation that is protruding from the water's surface. Naiads are green with bits of brown coloring on them. They look more like a tiny lobster than a dragonfly. They prefer warm, shallow waters during this life stage. When ready, they will crawl onto land and molt into their winged adult form. Adults can be found near lakes, ponds and slow-moving streams. They prefer areas that are quiet. In warmer climates, two generations of this species can be born a year; in colder climates, only one.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon

Taxonomic Hierarchy

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

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Tramea lacerata
Other Name(s): Jagged-edged Saddlebag
Category: Dragonfly or Damselfly
Size (Adult; Length): 45mm to 55mm (1.77" to 2.16")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black; yellow; green; brown
Descriptors: dragonfly; flying; four; blotch; ink; marks; wings

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 45mm (1.8in) and 55mm (2.2in)
Lo: 45mm
Md: 50mm
Hi: 55mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Black Saddlebags Skimmer may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Black Saddlebags Skimmer. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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