A Beauty, But What Is It?

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I photographed this stunningly beautiful damselfly this morning over at Sabino Canyon and have spent much of this afternoon trying to identify it.

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Identifying damselflies can be a daunting challenge.   There are dozens of species of these insects and many look alike.  What makes it even more of a challenge, however, is that there is often a lot of color variation within a species.  The guides usually show images of typical representatives of a species but a particular insect may not be typical in appearance.

So, what is this one?  I’m still not sure.  I know from its general shape and the way that it holds its wings that it is a damselfly and not a dragonfly (damselflies generally hold their wings in a folded position when resting and dragonflies always rest with their wings spread).  I also know that it is fairly large as damselflies go.  I’ve tentatively identified it as an Amethyst Dancer, a species of damselfly that is found locally.  But, trust me, that is highly tentative.  I’m not even sure whether this insect is a male or a female.  The males of this species tend to be tinted a distinct lavender, although not always.  Females are more muted.  To my eye, this insect has some very faint lavender tints, but that’s subjective.

Well, whatever it is, it’s certainly a beauty.  If any of you have suggestions as to its identity, I’d love to hear from you.

Photo taken with a Canon 5Diii,180f3.5L Macro assisted by Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite, ISO 100, M setting, f14 @ 1/160.

2 responses to “A Beauty, But What Is It?”

  1. Elaine Greenapple says :

    Hello Steven.
    Firstly, I enjoy your photos and write-ups every day! Thanks for sharing them.
    I am married to Rich Bailowitz who is an entomologist working on the upcoming book, Damselflies and Damselflies of Arizona and Sonora. I shared this entry with him and he said this is an immature male Sooty Dancer (Argia lumens). He checked with his co-author, Doug Danforth, just to make sure. Feel free to send any other mystery odonates (or butterflies) in the future for identification.
    Thanks for the great photos…I learn a little each day!

  2. Liesl Kii says :

    Lovely damselfly. Glad you now have someone to help identify them.

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