Not only are dragonflies eye-catching, but they’re also predators that control populations of gnats and mosquitoes. There are around 3000 kinds of dragonflies on earth with about 350 species in the United States alone. Most of these dragonflies are not one solid color, but for this article, the main color seen with a glance defines a species as that color.
What are 10 different colors of dragonflies? The rarest to most common colors are ranked below
10. Pink Dragonflies: The Rarest Dragonfly Color
Pink dragonflies are the rarest color of dragonflies even though the roseate skimmer (Orthemis ferruginea) is relatively common in the Americas. This species of insect is found from Brazil to the United States, and it was also introduced to the Hawaiian islands.
Only male roseate skimmers are pink as the females are brown. Sexual dimorphism is common in some insects with the males often being much more flashy than females.
9. Purple Dragonflies Are Rare
Wholly purple dragonflies are rare and most that appear purple do so in flashes because of their iridescence. However, one species that is constantly purple is the purple skimmer (Libellula jesseana) from Florida. Violet drop wings (Trithemis annulata) are also well-known purple dragonflies.
8. Grey Dragonflies Are Uncommon
A lot of dragonflies are brown or grey when they’re young, but dragonflies with mostly grey coloring as adults are more rare than some of the other colors on this list. Gray petal-tail dragonflies (Tachopteryx thorayi) are a large species found mostly in the eastern and midwestern United States. However, they are sometimes found in southern locations like Texas and northern Florida.
Grey sand dragons (Progomphus borealis) and filigree skimmers (Pseudoleon superbus) are two grey species found in the American Southwest. Grey sand dragons are also found in arid parts of Idaho, northern Mexico, the high desert of Washington, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
7. Red Dragonflies Are Highly Visible
Red dragonflies are found around the globe, and some male dragonflies switch from yellow to scarlet as they reach sexual maturity. Red dragonflies grab attention because their color is so vibrant. However, they aren’t that rare.
Species that exist in the United States include white-faced meadowhawks (Sympetrum obstrusum), Needham’s skimmers (Libellula needham), ruby meadow hawks (Sympetrum rubicundulum), neon skimmers (Libellula croceipennis), red saddlebags (Tramea onusta), desert fire tails (Telebasis salva), and Carolina saddlebags (Tramea Carolina).
6. Orange Dragonflies Are Not Rare
Orange dragonflies are common, and some type of this color is found in most places in the world. One of the most well-known is the fire cracker skimmer (Libellula saturata) in the United States. The Halloween pennant (Celithenis eponina) is another orange dragonfly.
The Sonoran Desert hosts the Mexican amber wing (Perithemis intensa). This particular variety has a bright orange-brown body with orange wings that have white veins throughout them.
5. Yellow Dragonflies Are Easily Spotted
An endemic dragonfly to the United States is the yellow dragonfly (Libellula needhami) which, as its name suggests, is yellow. Another yellow dragonfly that lives in North America is the eastern amber wing (Perithemis tenera). This specific amber wing has a brown tinge to it but its color is defined best by its amber wings.
Sometimes, dragonflies are different colors based on sex. Because of this, there are more yellow female dragonflies in the world than males. That’s because species like red-veined darters (Sympetrum fonscolombii) and elfin skimmers (Nannothemis bella) have yellow females while the males look completely different.
4. Brown Dragonflies Are Not Uncommon
Brown dragonflies are not rare, though there are more female brown dragonflies in the world than there are males. However, both sexes of the twelve-spotted skimmers (Libellula pulchella) appear brown.
The sexes of twelve-spotted skimmers are distinguishable by the spots on their wings. Males have white spots mixed in with the brown spots found on the wings of both sexes.
3. Black Dragonflies Are Common
It’s not rare for a dragonfly to appear black. However, they usually have some kind of other color on their body. The jagged-edged saddlebag (Tramea lacerata) is a common black dragonfly with red eyes that lives in North America.
The world’s biggest dragonfly has a black body with yellow markings. It’s called the giant petal-tail dragonfly (Petalura ingentisssima), and it lives in northeastern Australia. It’s so big as its wing span is up to 6 inches.
Petal-tail dragonflies are so large because they’re members of the oldest dragonfly family. Ancient dragonflies from millions of years ago were huge with wingspans that reached a few feet. This was made possible because there was so much oxygen in the atmosphere of their time.
The west coast of the United States hosts a petal-tail dragonfly though it isn’t as large as the one in Australia. It’s named the black petal-tail dragonfly (Tanypteryx hageni), and it’s found along the west coast of the United States.
Another black-bodied dragonfly with yellow on it is the Pacific spiketail (Cordulegaster dorsalis). It’s found in the western United States, and its body is mostly black with yellow spots along its back.
2. A Common Sight: Blue Dragonflies
Blue dragonflies are very common, and they are easy to find in Europe and North America. They are also found everywhere else in the world except on Antarctica which doesn’t host any dragonflies. A common dragonfly found in the United States is the blue dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis) which has a blue body and big green eyes.
The great blue skimmer (Libellula vibrans) is a large insect with a light blue appearance. Skimmers are so common that they make up over a quarter of the dragonflies present in the United States.
1. Green Dragonflies: The Most Common Dragonfly Color
Dragonflies that appear green are the most common color. Species like green darners (Anax junius) are found in a lot of places. As a result, they are found all over the United States except in California and New Mexico.
One of the larger dragonflies in existence is green, and it is named the giant Hawaiian dragonfly (Anax strenuus). This specific species has a wingspan of up to 5 and a half inches. As the name suggests, this insect is only found in Hawaii.
Large emperor dragonflies (Anax imperator) found in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and Asia are also green. The females are greener than males as males have light blue body parts.
Summary of 10 Different Colors of Dragonflies
|1||Green||U.S., except in California and New Mexico|
|2||Blue||Europe and North America|
|8||Grey||Eastern and Midwestern United States|
|9||Purple||Southern Europe, Africa, and the Middle East|
|10||Pink||North, Central, and South America|
The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/MBadnjar
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