Dragonflies of Utopia
All photographs are copyrighted and may not be used without permission.
© 2005-2015 - All Rights Reserved

The title of this page should be interpreted loosely, to include dragonflies, and damselflies, and the surrounding area of Utopia. We'll define this as from the Sabinal River headwaters at Lost Maples and the entire upper Sabinal watershed and drainage, south about 20 miles to Clayton Grade where you climb out of the valley, and drop off the escarpment into the flatlands of the brush country.

Widow Skimmer

Widow Skimmer

The locals call it a canyon, which it is north of Vanderpool, but most of it more resembles a flat valley about a mile wide. The upper Sabinal River drainage would be an accurate term. Much of the land is private, and often Hwy. 187 and side county road river crossings are the only access. Recently many of these were allegedly "improved" and much great ode habitat destroyed.

Ode populations seem far more fluid than say birds and every year is very different besides a core base of species. Many things that were present '04-'07 have been absent since the extraordinary drought that dried up the river by '09. Odes have not recovered or anything near that. Add on some severe floods to complete the boom or bust hydrologic cycle locally, and nothing stays the same but change.

Flame Skimmer

Flame Skimmer - 1st Uvalde Co. photo on my car antenna!
August 7, 2005, 2 mi. W. of Utopia

This list is of the Odes I've seen around the Utopia area, and in the upper Sabinal drainage.  If you have seen a species in the upper Sabinal drainage (including Lost Maples) that is not on this list, I would REALLY appreciate knowing.

The page is built more for the layfolk, such as the locals to learn from, as well as a basic reference starting point. Go to: www.odonatacentral.org (or odecentral?) for real professional photos and information about these wonderful amazing animals.

This page is not the work of a ode guy working (netting) every creek and crossing. I'm birding, butterflying, odeing, minnowing, fossilizing (literally and figuratively) and fungusing at all times.  So these results are far more casual, than a dedicated serious myopic hard-core ode nut would achieve, and is to give an idea of one observer's observations of what is hereabouts the Utopia area and upper Sabinal drainage.

Here I include a a few sight records of "seen only" species as I believe they complete the picture, when we are sure of their identification. I don't net everything, and some don't stop for pictures.   :)


Gomphid sps. (Plains Clubtail?)

We can only determine status with long term meticulous sight observations and note taking. One dot on a map such as county listing is, just doesn't say very much biologically speaking. It only starts to get interesting when we have 10 dots in the county, so then we can speculate and hypothesize about something happening besides a single lost (genetic dead-end) stray vagrant.

I post anything unusual I see to the great yahoo groups discussion list, Tex Odes, where there are experts that you can ask to review your photos for ID confirmation. I usually put pictures up here on this website, besides noting it in the Bird News page (which is all nature news now) so there is a record somewhere. I have numerous times resorted to e-mailing pictures to the experts that were "first county records" in hopes of trying to document new things.

Band-winged Dragonlet Band-winged Dragonlet

Band-winged Dragonlet - first Bandera County Record April 27, 04 South Little Creek ponds (buffalo wallows)

When I first got here in 2003 the Ode Central website county lists showed 52 species of Odes (dragons and damsels) from Bandera County, and 66 species of Odes from Uvalde County. Now in 2010 there are a hundred plus a couple species of Odes known from Uvalde County, making it one of the top ode diversity counties in the whole U.S. Only seven of the species I documented were new, the first ever documented for Uvalde Co., so most of the UvCo list's growth is due to other's work over the last seven years, not mine.

There is a major recording pain here in that the way lots of science works for distribution, is at the county level, and the upper Sabinal drainage is cut in half politically.  From town south is Uvalde Co., and from north of town to Lost Maples is Bandera County. Biogeographic boundries are better for things biological, such as "the upper Sabinal drainage" for say fish, or odes, etc. The upper Sabinal drainage is a unique biotic province.

Comanche Skimmer

Comanche Skimmer

About the list -

There are some codes after the names to further denote the status:
NCR  = New County Record
UvCo  = Uvalde County; BanCo = Bandera Count
LM  = Lost Maples; UP = Utopia Park
ph.  = photographed identifiably

On the list, name in CAPS means photograph obtained. Lower case means sight records only. Some things like say Prince Baskettail are numerous, you can see 6 at Utopia Park in short order at the right time, but unless you do dragonfly flight photography, you won't have a picture of one. Point is, not having a photo doesn't mean it isn't a common widespread species. Some just don't sit and and pose for our folly. Photos of most are on dragon or damsel photo pages.

Here we present the list of 65 photographed and 16 seen only species of Odes from the upper Sabinal drainage, most, right around Utopia, a total of 81 species known locally. There is brief annotation regarding status for each species.

DRAGONFLIES - Anisoptera

DARNERS ~ Aeshnidae
GREEN DARNER - Anax junius - Common sometimes, other times low numbers.
Giant Darner - Anax walsinghami - LM (BanCo) Oct.04 close for 5 min..
     Another in Nov. '05-or 6 at Garner St. Pk., UvCo.
COMET DARNER - Anax longipes - a few at Cook's Slough (NCR July 2005);
    then ovipositing at Uvld fish hatchery Aug., UP in Sept.'05;
    Next record a teneral ph. at Utopia Park May 07!
    Then another adult male at Utopia Park August 2010.
    Irregular accidental vagrant so far.
SPRINGTIME DARNER - Basiaeschna janata - regular in small numbers to June.
SWAMP DARNER - Epiaeschna heros - accidental July 27, 2009 UP, UvCo NCR
CYRANO DARNER - Nasiaeschna pentacantha - rare, one at UP 3 weeks in June 2010.
Turquoise-tipped Darner - Aeshna psilus - seen on Sabinal in Bandera Co. and Uvalde Co..
BLUE-EYED DARNER - Aeshna multicolor - photo'd - 3 males Sept 25, 2011 at UP.

GOMPHIDS ~ Gomphidae
DRAGONHUNTER - Hagenius brevistylus - regular but not numerous.
EASTERN RINGTAIL - Erpetogomphus designatus - regular in small numbers.
PRONGHORN CLUBTAIL - Gomphus graslinellus - few seen UvCo and BanCo.
FIVE-STRIPED LEAFTAIL - Phyllogomphoides albrighti - regular in low numbers.
FOUR-STRIPED LEAFTAIL - Phyllogomphoides stigmatus - regular in low numbers.
Sulphur-tipped Clubtail - Gomphus militaris - can be numerous in flatlands
Russet-tipped Clubtail - Stylurus plagiatus - very rare, seen BanCo and UvCo.
Jade Clubtail - Arigomphus submedianus - rare, seen BanCo and UvCo.
BLACK-SHOULDERED SPINYLEG - Dromogomphus spinosus - regular.

Emeralds, Cruisers, Baskettails, etc. ~ Corduliidae
Stream Cuiser - Didymops transversa - rare, a couple sightings
BRONZED RIVER CRUISER - Macromia annulata - regular '04-'06, now absent.
Illinois River Cruiser - Macromia illinoiensis - seen only once or twice.
PRINCE BASKETTAIL - Epitheca princeps - regular in low numbers.
DOT-WINGED BASKETTAIL - Epitheca petechialis - common, ph. in BanCo.
Orange Shadowdragon - Neurocordulia xanthosoma - rare, seen in BanCo and UvCo.

SKIMMERS ~ Libellulidae
COMMON WHITETAIL - Plathemis lydia - Common
WIDOW SKIMMER - Libellula luctuosa - regular in low numbers, a stunner in flight
TWELVE-SPOTTED SKIMMER - Libellula pulchella - less than annual, ph. BanCo and UvCo
FLAME SKIMMER - Libellula saturata - regular in low numbers;
NEON SKIMMER - Libellula croceipennis - regular in low numbers
ROSEATE SKIMMER - Orthemis ferruginea - regular in low numbers
Carmine Skimmer - Orthemis discolor - seen at LM and Utopia;
      (M.Reid had it at Lost Maples 9/04 for NCR Bandera)
COMANCHE SKIMMER - Libellula comanche - not annual, nearly so; LM
RED ROCK SKIMMER - Paltothemis lineatipes - BanCo NCR-Ph.; seen UvCo
FILIGREE SKIMMER - Psuedoleon superbus - BanCo NCR Ph.; less than annual
VARIEGATED MEADOWHAWK - Sympetrum corruptum - regular fall and winter
AUTUMN MEADOWHAWK - Sympetrum vicinum - regular in low numbers late fall
BAND-WINGED DRAGONLET - Erythrodiplax umbrata - local and scarce;
  (April '04 BanCo NCR ph. at S. Little Creek buffalo wallows)
EASTERN AMBERWING - Perithemis tenera - not annual at Utopia, Ph.
SLOUGH AMBERWING - Perithemis domitia - UP pair ovipos. Oct.'07; UvCo NCR
BLUE DASHER - Pachydiplax longipennis - BanCo NCR; common at UP
THORNBUSH DASHER - Micrathyria hagenii - less than annual; BanCo NCR
COMMON (EASTERN) PONDHAWK - Erythemis simplicicollis - common
GREAT PONDHAWK - Erythemis vesiculosa - very rare, ph. '07, '09, '11 UP
WANDERING GLIDER - Pantala flavescens - common, Ph. BanCo-NCR
SPOT-WINGED GLIDER - Pantala hymenaea - common seen BanCo, Ph UvCo
BLACK SADDLEBAGS - Tramea lacerata - common and widespread
RED SADDLEBAGS - Tramea onusta - common and widespread
Hyacinth Glider - Miathyria marcella - very rare up on plateau at Utopia
  (spec. and photos NCR-UvCo at Ft. Inge '04 in Uvalde where regular.)
CHECKERED SETWING - Dythemis fugax - common
SWIFT SETWING - Dythemis velox - common
BLACK SETWING - Dythemis nigrescens - common, BanCo NCR ph.
RED-TAILED PENNANT - Brachymesia furcata - not annual, seen LM, UP
FOUR-SPOTTED PENNANT - Brachymesia gravida - not annual, TC, SLC, LM, UP
BANDED PENNANT - Celithemis fasciata - reg. at LM, recently at UP
HALLOWEEN PENNANT - Celithemis eponina - rare visitor, TC, SLC;
MARL PENNANT - Macrodiplax balteata - BanCo seen, Ph in UvCo
    ph. at hatchery in Uvalde June 09; Uvalde NCR
PALE-FACED CLUBSKIMMER - Brechmorhoga mendax - was common, now scarce.
IVORY-STRIPED SYLPH - Macrothemis imitans - local but regular in low numbers
    (photos in Uv.Co. on Sabinal, Leona, & Nueces Rivers)
Straw-colored Sylph - Macrothemis inacuta - photos at Cooks' Slough,
seen at UP, and in BanCo.
Jade-striped Sylph - Macrothemis inequinis - a few sites in Sabinal Valley, LM

Photographed (CAPS) are 47 species of dragons locally around Utopia and vicinity, and seen but not photographed 11 additional species locally. This totals 58 species of Anisops (dragons) in the upper Sabinal drainage. In fact besides the Giant Darner, all listed species have been seen within just four miles at most, of Utopia. Additional species have been seen that were not positively identified, so not mentioned.

As of 2011 just at the 3 or so acres of ode habitat at Utopia Park, I have seen 44 species of dragonflies, and 18 species of damselflies. So my Utopia Park ode list is 62 species, mostly from walking about 300 yards of river edge and riverine pond shoreline, with a little streamish habitat below spillway, when water is running.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The following 8 species I have seen nearby in brush country flatlands of south central Uvalde County and so should be kept in mind as a possibility here. Also keep in mind though, there is tremendous difference between the upper Sabinal drainage, and the waterholes and watercourses amongst Tamaulipan thorn-scrub habitats around Uvalde.

Blue-faced Darner - Coryphaeschna adnexa - multiples at Ft. Inge 2010
BROAD-STRIPED FORCEPTAIL sps. - Aphylla augustifolia - common in flatlands
Narrow-striped Forceptail - Aphylla protracta - few, regular in flatlands
FLAG-TAILED SPINYLEG - Dromogomphus spoliatus - regular at Cook's Slough (S.UvCo)
Great Blue Skimmer - Libellula vibrans - occurred in W. UvCo in 2010
PIN-TAILED PONDHAWK - Erythemis plebeja - rare but regular off and on
Striped Saddlebags - Tramea calverti - rare but regular
SPOT-TAILED DASHER - Micrathyria aequalis - NCR UvCo Aug. 29, 2010
Now for Damselflies!


Argia cuprea

Argia cuprea - Coppery Dancer

Argia lugens

Argia translata - Dusky Dancer

Broad-wing Damselflies - Calopterygidae
AMERICAN RUBYSPOT - Hetaerina americana - was abundant, now uncommon
SMOKY RUBYSPOT - Hetaerina titia - was common, absent since drought

Spreadwings - Lestidae
GREAT SPREADWING - Archilestes grandis - regular but not numerous
PLATEAU SPREADWING - Lestes alacer - scarce and local, not annual

Threadtails - Protoneuridae
ORANGE-STRIPED THREADTAIL - Protoneura cara - regular at UP, few at LM

Pond Damselflies - Coenagrionidae
Broken down into genus groups

Dancers - genus Argia
KIOWA DANCER - Argia immunda - common and widespread
VIOLET DANCER - Argia violacea - common and widespread
POWDERED DANCER - Argia moesta - scarce but regular in low numbers
AZTEC DANCER - Argia nahuana - regular at LM, scarce elsewhere
COPPERY DANCER - Argia cuprea - local but regular in low numbers
DUSKY DANCER - Argia translata - regular in low numbers, widespread
BLUE-FRONTED DANCER - Argia apicalis - scarce, not annual here
BLUE-RINGED DANCER - Argia sedula - common and widespread
Leonora's Dancer - Argia leonorae - seen only UP
Springwater Dancer - Argia plana - seen only at LM

Bluets - genus Enallagma
DOUBLE-STRIPED BLUET - Enallagma basidens - regular in low numbers, UP
FAMILIAR BLUET - Enallagma civile - Common at UP
STREAM BLUET - Enallagma exsulans - regular in low numbers, UP
Neotropical Bluet - Enallagma novaehispaniae - scarce, low numbers, UP
ORANGE BLUET - Enallagma signatum - regular in low numbers; LM,UP

Forktails - genus Ischnura
CITRINE FORKTAIL - Ischnura hastata - regular in low numbers, UP
FRAGILE FORKTAIL - Ischnura posita - regular in low numbers, UP
RAMBUR'S FORKTAIL - Ischnura ramburii - regular in low numbers,UP, BanCo NCR ph.
DESERT FIRETAIL - Telebasis salva - Regular in low numbers

24 sps. of Damsels identified around Utopia, all but three species documented by photographs. Several other species have been seen and not identified. The first Neotropical Bluet was ID'd in hand by Tony Gallucci, so though not photo'd, better than that.

~ Summary ~

So, for irrefutably photographed locally documented species just from the upper Sabinal River watershed or drainage, we have at least 65: 44 dragonflies, and 21 types of damselflies. Additionally we have 3 type of damsels and 13 types of dragons that are sight records only, with no irrefutable photo proof (several of these are common). A total of 81 species of Odes that I have seen in the upper Sabinal drainage. That is just from a 1 mile wide by 20 mile long valley-drainage in the NE corner of the county. Additional unidentified species have been seen. Surely over 85 species have occurred locally. The entire Uvalde Co. Ode list as of 2011 or so is 101 or 102 sps., up 25% from about 73 species in 2003 when I moved here.

Besides Tony Gallucci whom has been tremendously helpful and patient with my learning curve, I am grateful to Greg Lasley, Dennis Paulson, Tom Langscheid, and Dr. John Abbott, all of whom have generously offered usually much needed identification advice. My heartfelt thanks to you all! Any and all errors here of the fault of the author (me), not them!

Desert Firetail

Desert Firetail, female

Mitch Heindel, Utopia
revised March 2014

Please e-mail me if you go odeing in the area, and let me know what you found!
We'll add it to the list.

All photographs within this site are copyrighted
and may not be used without permission.
All Rights Reserved.
© M. and K. Heindel 2005-2020