Argia emma
Emma's Dancer is a colorful, long-legged, mid-sized dancer that lives next to fast-running rocky streams in the mountains and foothills.

Males are a lovely shade of violet-purple (for some reason they remind me of the Minnesota Vikings) that contrasts with a bright white pruinescence that coverts the underside of the thorax. There is a very thin mid-dorsal stripe (can look like two pencil-thin stripes atop the thorax) and a thin black side stripe "that narrows to a hairline at its midpoint before widening again to a small, black spot near the base of the forewing" (Manolis 2003).

Photo (very top) 9 Sep 2006 North Fork, San Antonio River
Photos (above & below) 6 Aug 2006 Arroyo Seco River

Males typically perch in a standard spread-legged posture on rocks or logs jutting above rushing streams (below).

Males have extensive blue over the 8th, 9th & 10th segments, and a complicated spiky arrangement to their terminal appendages (right). In the shot above, you can see the contrastingly white pruinescence to underside of the thorax and initial abdominal segments.

Photo (above, full frame) 23 Sep 2006 near Wagon Caves, The Indians
Photo (above, appendage) 6 Aug 2006 Arroyo Seco
Very young Emma's Dancers start out light tan (above). A female may be brown, or light blue on the thorax, or even pale green (below). Note the presence of the male-like thoracic pattern of thin stripes, and the extensive white pruinescence on the underside of the thorax, the first abdominal segment, and the legs.
Photo (immature above) 14 Aug 2006 Taylor Creek, El Dorado Co.
Photo (female above) 6 Aug 2006 Arroyo Seco

Emma's Dancer is restricted in MTY to rocky, fast-flowing creeks and rivers in the mountains and foothills (we have no montane lakes, a habitat it uses elsewhere). The map shows the locales at which it has been found so far. It likely occurs widely on similar streams throughout the Santa Lucia Mountains.

In MTY, the known flight dates stretch from 5 May to 23 September. Elsewhere in California, flight dates range from March through September (Manolis 2003).

Literature cited:
  • Manolis, T. 2003. Dragonflies and Damselflies of California. Univ. of Calif. Press, Berkeley.

Web resources:
Major identification web sites with much information on California odes include:

For sites with excellent photos to compare for identification or to simply enjoy, see: Many of these sites have links to other useful pages. Kathy Biggs's site is particularly useful in her selection of links.

All photos © Don Roberson 2007


Page created 25 Mar 2007, revised 16 May 2007