Familiar Bluets sometimes familiar
- 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
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.
1724 NE 98 St.
Seattle, WA 98115
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]