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Familiar Bluets sometimes familiar

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  • Dennis Paulson
    Hello, all. Some people responded to my query about Enallagma civile status on the listserves, others only to me, so I ll try to summarize, also from my own
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 12 6:29 PM
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      Hello, all.

      Some people responded to my query about Enallagma civile status on
      the listserves, others only to me, so I'll try to summarize, also
      from my own experience.

      Familiar Bluets are not ubiquitous, although they are very wide-
      ranging and reported from a great number of US counties.

      Although reported from southeastern coastal plain counties down to
      central Florida, they seem to be rarely seen in most of that area.
      I've never seen one in Florida, with much field work, nor in Georgia
      except in the NW corner. They were common when I lived in Chapel
      Hill, NC, and are apparently still common and widespread in that
      state. They are common at least south to north coastal South
      Carolina. But a number of people reported they had never seen the
      species in their local area, even though well within the known range.

      They are distinctly local in many areas, restricted to or more common
      in "disturbed" situations such as farm ponds and retention ponds and
      reservoirs. They were called "early successional," coming in when a
      pond is newly created and then being replaced by other species within
      a few years. Thus they are unlikely to occur with some similar-
      looking species - Atlantic (E. doubledayi), Boreal (E. boreale), and
      Northern (E. annexum) bluets, for example - all of which favor more
      pristine habitats. However, they can also occur in "natural"
      settings, for example Carolina bays in South Carolina.

      As is the case with many odonate species, people mentioned civile
      being abundant at some ponds, completely lacking from others that
      superficially didn't look that different. Those are definitely
      interesting situations that we should try to understand.

      Familiar Bluets often spend much time out over open water, with most
      individuals away from the shore vegetation, so they may not always be
      obvious in an area where they are in fact fairly common. I've often
      been amazed at how many flying damselflies (usually one or more
      species of bluets) I can see with binoculars when I look out over a
      large pond or lake.

      In some areas, they are more common in late summer and fall, even
      into October well to the north, but there are records as early as
      April in numerous regions.

      There was some mention of year-to-year fluctuations, and it seems
      this summer is generally poor for damselflies. You have seen my posts
      on the absence of damselflies in midsummer in the Southeast, and
      perhaps something is going on that really is harming damselflies more
      than dragonflies.

      They seem to be more common and widespread in the Southwest, from
      Texas to California, where I see them basically everywhere on every
      visit during their lengthy flight season. They occur in most
      habitats, including slow streams and rivers.

      The species occurs in the uplands of Mexico all the way through
      Central America to Colombia. Newfoundland to Colombia is a rather
      unusual distribution for an odonate. Because it is so common in the
      Southwest and Mexico, I wonder if it might have originated in the
      tropical uplands and then moved north and east after the glaciers
      receded, sort of like we've seen Double-striped Bluets (E. basidens)
      do in historic times. E. civile has also extended its range
      northeastward since recordkeeping started, apparently.

      Dennis Paulson
      1724 NE 98 St.
      Seattle, WA 98115

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