10 Different Colors of Dragonflies (Rarest to Most Common)

Animals With The Shortest Lifespan
© iStock.com/MBadnjar

Written by Kristen Holder

Updated: October 9, 2023

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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.

These are the 10 colors that you may see dragonflies have!

What are 10 different colors of dragonflies? The rarest to most common colors are ranked below

10. Pink Dragonflies: The Rarest Dragonfly Color

Roseate skimmer, Rio Grande Valley, Texas

While roseate skimmers are relatively common, pink is the rarest color of dragonflies.

©Danita Delimont/Shutterstock.com

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

Violet dropwing dragonfly perched on a stick

Violet drop-wing

dragonfly

perched on a stick.

©CreativeNature_nl/iStock via Getty Images

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

Largest dragonflies - grey petaltail

The large gray petal-tail dragonfly is gray as an adult.

©Frode Jacobsen/Shutterstock.com

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

Carolina saddlebags dragonfly

Carolina saddlebags are a type of red dragonfly found in the United States.

©DrWD40/iStock via Getty Images

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

Closeup shot of a Halloween pennant (Celithemis eponina)

Halloween pennants are an orange dragonfly.

©Wirestock/iStock via Getty Images

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

Eastern amber wings are orange dragonflies in North America.

Eastern amber wings are yellowish dragonflies in North America.

©Art Sublimina Photography/iStock via Getty Images

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

Male Twelve-spotted Skimmer

Male twelve-spotted skimmers have white spots on their wings.

©EIBrubaker/iStock via Getty Images

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

black saddlebags, Tramea lacerata, dragonfly

Jagged-edged saddlebags are a common black dragonfly in North America.

©johnandersonphoto/iStock via Getty Images

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 Dasher Dragonfly

Blue dashers are common.

©Gerald DeBoer/iStock via Getty Images

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

Green darner dragonflies are a common variety in the United States.

Green darner dragonflies are a common variety in the United States.

©Photoongraphy/Shutterstock.com

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

RankColorTypical Location
1GreenU.S., except in California and New Mexico
2BlueEurope and North America
3BlackNorth America
4BrownEurope
5YellowUnited States
6OrangeUnited States
7RedUnited States
8GreyEastern and Midwestern United States
9PurpleSouthern Europe, Africa, and the Middle East
10PinkNorth, Central, and South America


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About the Author

Kristen Holder is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering topics related to history, travel, pets, and obscure scientific issues. Kristen has been writing professionally for 3 years, and she holds a Bachelor's Degree from the University of California, Riverside, which she obtained in 2009. After living in California, Washington, and Arizona, she is now a permanent resident of Iowa. Kristen loves to dote on her 3 cats, and she spends her free time coming up with adventures that allow her to explore her new home.

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