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.
Our only violet-colored damselfly, the length of the variable dancer varies from 1.1 to 1.3 inches for both genders. The male has a violet thorax with thin black shoulder stripes (forked) and pale sides. The abdomen is violet with black markings and blue tips. The eyes are dark with purple eyespots. The female has a light brown thorax with forked black stripes. The abdomen is brown with black spots and streaks on the sides. The eyes are brownish gray. The abdomen is pale dorsally, compared to other female dancers.
Ranging from central to eastern United States and southeastern Canada, this species can be found at a variety of habitats, most commonly at vegetated streams and small ponds. In Wisconsin, it is often common and widely distributed throughout the state.
Late June to September in Wisconsin.