Familiar Bluet is a tiny damselfly that is common and widespread. Males
(above) are light blue with black bands and stripes. Familiar Bluet is
among the bluets that have a lot more blue than black, particularly on
the 3rd abdominal segment, which helps to separate it from another very
common bluet, Tule Bluet.
photo (above) 1
Oct 2006 Carmel River mouth
Female bluets are quite variable. The one "in wheel" (above) is almost
as blue as the male but note that she has a lot more black on the
of her abdomen. Other females can be olive, tan or whitish instead of
The one below, for example, is washed with turquoise and olive. Female
bluets are exceedingly similar to each other and while we can identify
the one above, because it is mating with a male Familiar, the one below
is only assumed to be a Familiar because there were males of that
nearby. However, both Familiar and Tule Bluets occur together, and
interbreed (T. Manolis, in litt.), so the identity of females is really
photo (above) 25
Sep 2006 Salinas River
photo (below) 25 July 2006 near
Familiar Bluets are identified by the large fin-shaped upper appendages
(cerci) that extend well beyond the lower appendages (paraprocts), and
the two combined (left) give a long triangular shape to the abdominal
This shape can often be seen with binoculars and helps eliminate a
of other bluets in which the paraprocts are longer than the cerci
Northern Bluet). Note also the distinctive pale lobe in the middle of
trailing edge of the dark cerci. Tule Bluet has a caruncle at the tip
its cerci that can be rather similar, but it tends to be at the upper
of the upper appendage, not so much in the middle. Hybrids between
and Tule Bluets are known, complicating the issue (Manolis 2003).
photo (left) 1 Oct 2006
Carmel River mouth
photo (below) 25 Sep 2006
Salinas River mouth
further complicate the picture.
The areas that will be pale blue on mature males can be tinged olive
the one below) or lavender-gray (Manolis 2003). In addition, the colors
of any individual may change with temperature and age.
Bluets oviposit in tandem (above), with the female depositing eggs
the surface of a quiet backwater while the male hovers overhead,
her by the back of the "neck."
When not engaged in reproductive behavior, flying
Familiar Bluets, like
all odonates, are voracious predators. This male (right) is
and eating what looks like a small ant.
Familiar Bluets (like other bluets) are only about
1.5 inches long.
Thus all the photos of this page are shown much larger than life size.
It can be most interesting to view them close-up through a hand lens or
the macro lens of a camera. Fortunately, this species is very common
widespread in California, and in Monterey County, and opportunities to
observe them abound.
Photo (above) 23 July 2006 near
Photo (right) 29 July 2006 Pinnacles
NM, San Benito Co.
map shows only some areas where Familiar Bluet has been found. It
occurs everywhere in the MTY lowlands where there are open marshes,
ditches, and quiet backwaters. However, it has not yet been observed
into the foothills or along more shaded creeks of the Santa Lucia
where other bluets (e.g., Arroyo and Northern) seem to be more common.
Familiar Bluets do, however, range well up into the Diablo Range and
be common in Pinnacles National Monument, San Benito Co.
MTY specimens of Familiar Bluet date back to
1942 (Hastings NHR) but
their flight season in the county has not been fully documented. Data
files document records between 5 May-28 October, but elsewhere in
the flight season extends from March to early December (Manolis 2003).
- Manolis, T. 2003. Dragonflies and Damselflies of
California. Univ. of
Major identification web sites with much information on California
For sites with excellent photos to compare for identification or to
Many of these sites have links to other useful pages. Kathy Biggs's
is particularly useful in her selection of links.
All photos © Don Roberson 2007
Page created 2-5 Oct 2006,
revised 16 May 2007