Enallagma carunculatum
Tule Bluet is a common and widespread blue-and-black damsel of marshes and pond edges. With a close look at the legs (as we have above with digital photography), note that the length of the leg spines is about the same as the distance between the spines. This helps identify this damsel as a bluet and not a dancer.

Like other bluets (and like dancers), the female Tule Bluet oviposits the eggs in tandem with the male, who holds on to assure that another male doesn't mate while she is depositing his eggs. Females can be tan, whitish, or pale blue, but are very hard to distinguish from the females of other bluets.

Photos (very top) 19 July 2006 Carmel R. mouth
Photos (above & below) 21 Oct 2006 Lake San Antonio

Identification of a Tule Bluet requires nice views of a male. A key character for Tule Bluet is that, from above, the abdomen looks like it has more black than blue. This is especially important on the 3rd and 4th abdominal segments. Of our local bluets, only Arroyo Bluet is similar. Familiar and Northern Bluets (and Boreal Bluet, which could occur) are more blue than black, especially in these middle segments.

Photo (left) 3 Aug 2006 Carmel R. mouth
Photo (right) 3 June 2007 Arroyo Seco Lakes

The two males above — seen from different angles — illustrate the "more black than blue" pattern of Tule Bluet. There can be quite a lot of variation in this pattern — and the black portions atop each segment are rather 'dart-shaped' — but the entire impression is of a "not very blue" bluet, at least compared to species like Familiar and Northern Bluets.

The clinching character is the shape of the abdominal appendages. The upper appendages (cerci) are tipped with a white caruncle (giving it its latin species name), and the cerci are not much longer than the lower appendages (paraprocts). This is all like a slimmed down version of the long fin-like cerci on Familiar Bluet. [The two species often occur together and have hybridized; see Manolis 2003.]

Tule Bluet is found commonly throughout the MTY lowlands and into the foothills. It likes marshy ponds and lakes, quiet reedy backwaters, and open wastewater ponds. It is also quite common across much of California and well into the mountains. The evocative shot below is from the east side of the Sierra Nevada. The voracious male is devouring some small insect prey.
Photo (appendage above) 3 Aug 2006 Carmel R. mouth
Photo (full frame jut above) 14 Aug 2006 Indian Valley Reservoir, ALP

The map shows a selection of locales at which Tule Bluet has been found. It is likely common and widespread throughout the county.

In MTY, the known flight dates stretch from 8 May to 21 Oct. Elsewhere in California, flight dates span Feb–Nov (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