Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter


from the April 20, 2014 Newsletter issued from the Frio Canyon Nature Education Center in the valley of the Dry Frio River in northern Uvalde County, southwestern Texas, on the southern border of the Edwards Plateau, USA

The damselfly shown above alighted on a limestone boulder beside the trickling Dry Frio River. I wasn't sure this one could be identified because Michael Overton's "Odonates of Uvalde County, Texas Field Checklist" lists 25 damselfly species, and most of them are slender with a blue-tipped abdomen, like this one. However, the checklist enabled me to do Google image searches on each of the 25 species, comparing them with our picture.

The first thing that became apparent was that our damselfly was a member of the largest genus on the checklist, genus Argia, a group of damselflies often known as dancers. Ten Argia species were listed, all at first glance very similar to the one in our photo.

However, there were indeed slight differences. For example, the Blue-fronted Dancer's long abdomen was ringed with very distinct, narrow, bright-blue bands, while the blue bands on the abdomen of ours were darker and relatively broader. The Comanche Dancer's blue bands were much thicker, limiting the black between them to bands much narrower than our damselfly's. On and on the comparisons went, each time slight differences turning up, until one species was nearly a perfect match: the Kiowa Dancer, ARGIA IMMUNDA. Happily, volunteer identifier Bea in Ontario independently came up with the same name.

Kiowa Dancers are mostly a tropical species, commonly occurring along streams and rivers from Belize up through Mexico, into the southwestern US from California east to Texas, and north to South Dakota.

The blue abdominal bands on most males pictured on the Internet are more brightly blue than on our individual, while females are dingier, their abdomens ringed more with blue-gray or plain gray than ours. However, our individual matches some identified as young males.