Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada

Species Argia fumipennis - Variable Dancer

Smokeywing Variable Dancer -Argia fumipennis fumipennis - Argia fumipennis DamselFly - Argia fumipennis Variable Dancer? - Argia fumipennis - male Violet Dancer - Argia fumipennis - female Eastern Forktail? - Argia fumipennis Blue damselfly with dark wings - Argia fumipennis Odonate - Argia fumipennis - female purple - Argia fumipennis - male
Classification
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Odonata (Dragonflies and Damselflies)
Suborder Zygoptera (Damselflies)
Family Coenagrionidae (Narrow-winged Damselflies)
Genus Argia (Dancers)
Species fumipennis (Variable Dancer)
Other Common Names
Formerly called Violet Dancer.
Numbers
One of 30 Nearctic species in the genus.
Size
29-35 mm.
Range
United States, and just edging into Canada. Missing from the northwest quarter of the United States.
Habitat
Well-vegetated ponds and streams.
Season
Spring and summer.
Food
Tiny flying insects.
Remarks
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.
Print References
(1)
Works Cited
1.Damselflies of the Northeast
Ed Lam. 2004. Biodiversity Books.