Wisconsin Odonata Survey


Tramea darwini  Kirby, 1889
Striped Saddlebags

Libellulidae, Skimmer Family
"Most Wanted" Species

First recorded in Wisconsin in 2012, striped saddlebags is one of four species of saddlebags to look for here. These large, strong-flying, migratory skimmers are a primarily tropical group, with Wisconsin being near the northern edge of the range of even our most common species (black saddlebags). Adult saddlebags are either black or red to reddish brown. Although saddlebags are not particularly difficult to identify, they can be difficult to observe closely enough to identify to species because of their fast and nearly continual flight. Examining them in the hand is the best way to identify them if you are quick enough to net them!


Global: G5     Wisconsin: SNA    

Distinguishing Characteristics:

This distinctive red-type saddlebags has a much narrower saddle than the other red-type saddlebags found in Wisconsin (red saddlebags and Carolina saddlebags, which have wide saddles with jagged exterior margins). Other narrow-saddle saddlebags are not likely to be seen here, but it can be distinguished from those by the presence of two pale stripes on the side of the thorax and by the largely black abdomen tip (S8-10). The pale thoracic stripes are bright on females and juveniles, but darken with age and can be difficult to see on older males.

Description of Habitat/Range:

Breeds in shallow, open, well-vegetated ponds and pools, including temporary and brackish habitats. Does best in habitats lacking fish, which appears to be true of all saddlebags. Common in lowlands of South America and the West Indies; possibly resident in southern Texas and southern Florida; other North American records are probably vagrants. The first Wisconsin records were reported in 2012 from five counties; also first reported in Minnesota from two counties (Jackson 2012). Not known to breed in Wisconsin although it may occasionally do so. Please report any evidence of breeding of this species (pairs in wheel, ovipositing females, tenerals, nymphs, or exuviae) to the Wisconsin Odonata Survey.

Flight Season:

Observations in Wisconsin and other northern states have spanned late June through early October.

Reference: Jackson, D. 2012. Hunting for Tramea in Wisconsin and Minnesota. ARGIA 24(4): 23-24.

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 striped saddlebags
Male striped saddlebags. © Dan Jackson

Photo of Male striped saddlebags
Male striped saddlebags. © Dan Jackson

Photo of Female striped saddlebags
Female striped saddlebags. © Dan Jackson

Photo of Female striped saddlebags
Female striped saddlebags. © Dan Jackson

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