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Common Sanddragon (Progomphus obscurus)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Common Sanddragon

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Image Credit: Shawn P. taken at the Bull Creek Greenbelt area near Austin, TX
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The Common Sanddragon is an in-flight hunter, zipping back-and-forth from rest to ambush in mere seconds.

Updated: 01/26/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The Common Sanddragon is a dragonfly that prefers moving water. It can be found by streams, creeks and small rivers, flying over and around the water in search of insect prey. It rests on rocks, boulders, logs or branches. On very hot days, raising its long abdomen straight into the air helps it cool off.

Females have a slender dark brown abdomen; males have a slight bulge at the tip of their abdomen. A yellow mark at the top of each abdominal segment adds color to the 'tail'. The front of the face is yellow. Large eyes on the sides of the head vary in color depending on the surroundings. All four transparent wings have a single black bar on the top edge, near the wing's tip. The sides of the thorax have alternating diagonal stripes of yellow, brown and possibly blue.

Females will cruise along the surface of the moving water alone, occasionally dropping a fertilized egg into it by dipping her long abdomen into the water. Once the egg hatches, a young naiad (juvenile) emerges and immediately begins burrowing into the sandy bottom of the stream (and the name 'sanddragon' becomes clear). The stout naiad looks more like a crustacean than a dragonfly, and molts. A naiad eats other aquatic insects and lives underwater. After growing and developing, it crawls from the water, develops wings and becomes a fully mature adult. Adults eat flying insect prey and remain above water for the rest of their lives. They are most active in summer and fall months.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Striped or banded insect icon

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Odonata
        Family: Gomphidae
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          Genus: Progomphus
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            Species: obscurus

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Progomphus obscurus
Other Name(s): Sanddragon
Category: Dragonfly or Damselfly
Size (Adult; Length): 43mm to 71mm (1.69" to 2.79")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black, brown, yellow, white
Descriptors: dragonfly, flying, stripes, beneficial

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 43mm (1.7in) and 71mm (2.8in)
Lo: 43mm
Md: 57mm
Hi: 71mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Common Sanddragon 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 Common Sanddragon. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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