Wisconsin Odonata Survey


Argia apicalis  (Say, 1839)
Blue-fronted Dancer

Coenagrionidae, Pond Damsel Family

The dancers (Argia species) are sometimes similar in appearance to the bluets (Enallagma species) and may require in-hand examinations to separate them. Dancers can always be identified by the long setae on the front of their tibiae, which are twice as long as the intervening spaces. In all other pond damsels, these setae are only about as long as the intervening spaces. The females generally are duller than males and more difficult to identify. The "bouncy" flight of the dancers also distinguishes them from the bluets.


Global: G5     Wisconsin: S4    

Distinguishing Characteristics:

The length of the body varies from 1.3 to 1.6 inches. The male has bright blue face and thorax. The abdomen is black with pale blue rings on the joints with a mostly blue tip. The eyes are dark blue with tiny blue eyespots. The female occurs in blue and brown forms. The brown form is a brown version of the male. The blue form is similar to the male's coloration. The blue form of powdered dancer does not have bright blue at end of the abdomen. The brown form of powdered dancer have less black on the abdomen than the brown form of the blue-fronted dancer female.

Description of Habitat/Range:

Ranging from central to eastern United States, the blue-fronted dancer likes broad muddy rivers, occasionally lakes and ponds. It is found at widely scattered sites, mostly in southern Wisconsin.

Flight Season:

In Wisconsin, it has been documented from mid-June to early September. Rangewide, the flight season is from late May to late August.

Shading illustrates monthly percentages of the total flight season records for the species. Each flight season record is a unique date/location/observer combination where one or more adult or an exuvia was recorded (excludes nymphs). The actual number of flight season records for each month is shown in parentheses.

Flight seasons begin earlier in the southern part of the state, often by a week or more. Also, flight charts may not be accurate for rare species because of few data available.
View user-submitted photos

(Click on photos to enlarge)
Photo of Male blue-fronted dancer
Male blue-fronted dancer. © Dan Jackson

Male blue-fronted dancer
Photo of Female blue-fronted dancer with a male's abdomen
Female blue-fronted dancer with a male's abdomen. © Mike Reese

Female blue-fronted dancer with a male's abdomen
Photo of Brown-form female blue-fronted dancer
Brown-form female blue-fronted dancer. © Dan Jackson

Brown-form female blue-fronted dancer
Photo of Blue-form female blue-fronted dancer
Blue-form female blue-fronted dancer. © Dan Jackson

Blue-form female blue-fronted dancer

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