The black saddlebags is easily identified by its mostly black coloration with some white dorsal abdominal spots and black wing patterns. The length of the body varies from 2.0 to 2.2 inches. The hindwings are 1/4 covered with a black band, near the body. Females and juvenile males have yellow-brown faces and large white dorsal spots on most of the abdomen. The face becomes black and the abdominal spots darken in males. One of the abdominal spots persists the longest near the middle of the abdomen. Some people have commented that the hindwing bands resemble theater comedy masks facing each other across the abdomen.
Found throughout United States and southernmost Canada, the black saddlebags prefers ponds, lakes, and ditches without fish, including temporary ponds. It occurs fairly commonly throughout the southern two-thirds of Wisconsin.
In Wisconsin, the flight season extends from late-May to mid-October with northbound migrants arriving in late spring and early summer and their offspring emerging and flying south starting in August.