Other Common Names
Formerly called Violet Dancer.
One of 30 Nearctic species in the genus.
United States, and just edging into Canada. Missing from the northwest quarter of the United States.
Well-vegetated ponds and streams.
As the name suggests, this is a variable species. The variation has led to the describing of three subspecies. The Violet Dancer (A. f. violacea) to the north has clear wings, the Smoky-winged Dancer (A. f. fumipennis) of the southeast has brownish wings, and the Black Dancer (A. f. atra) of Florida has entirely black wings.
Dr John Abbott of Odonata Central states "Subspecies are interesting as they are often used differently within different taxa. Within the Odonata, they essentially are not used. You will not find them in the checklists on OdonataCentral for example because we (the official names committee for North American Odonata) decided to do away with the few that we had. I'm not arguing against the use of subspecies in general, just that within Odonata, we decided they weren't that helpful/useful. If there is an exception, it is the A. fumipennis complex where there are common names established (though not official) for the three recognized subspecies. In this case they were described to distinguish the geographic variations within the species, and again, they can be useful in that regards. But the subspecies definitely do interbreed where they meet and there are intergrades. At OdonataCentral we just decided it was easiest to call them all A. fumipennis at least when it comes to labeling pictures on the web and such."
The images here on BugGuide are sorted as best as possible given these conditions. The subspecies are interesting, but absolute certainty on identification to subspecies is not possible nor critically important.