The other day I wrote about an ebony jewelwing damselfly (Odonata: Calopterygidae: Calopteryx maculata), and that damselfly was easy to identify. The family Calopterygidae only contains eight species in North America, and each one is quite unique.
The damselfly shown here was more difficult. I knew it was in the family Coenagrionidae (narrow-winged damselflies), but there are over 100 species in that family in North America and many look very similar. I enlisted the help of the expert community at bugguide.net and they promptly gave me an identification. This is a blue-tipped dancer (Odonata: Coenagrionidae: Argia tibialis).
I found many of these insects in a sedge meadow along the River Raisin in southeast Michigan. Together with the contrastingly bright red meadowhawk dragonflies, these two insects dominated the scenery on this particular hot sunny day. Damselflies and dragonflies are both in the order Odonata, and they share a number of common traits. Both grow up as aquatic nymphs (naiads) in rivers and streams, have flying adults that tend to remain near the water, and feed on other insects as both naiads and adults. The presence of aquatic nymphs of both groups are also helpful in determining the water quality of streams and rivers. Particular families are sensitive to poor conditions to varying degrees.