The Dragonflies and Damselflies of North Carolina
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North Carolina's 187 Odonate species

Sort Species by: Family   Scientific Name       [ Undocumented ]
Related Species in COENAGRIONIDAE: Number of records added in 2020 = 34
Added in 2020 from previous year = 1 (1903-07-03)

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Variable Dancer (Argia fumipennis) by Rob Van Epps (left) - Mark Shields (right)
Compare with: Blue-tipped Dancer  
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Note: these identification tips apply specifically to mature males; features may differ in immature males and in females.

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flight charts
distribution Essentially statewide, with the exception being the northeastern Coastal Plain, where it appears to be legitimately absent from several counties Two subspecies are represented in North Carolina: Argia fumipennis fumipennis in the eastern Piedmont and Coastal Plain, and A. f. violacea in the western Piedmont and mountains.
abundance Common to locally abundant across the state (except rare to absent in the extreme northeast); can often be the most numerous damselfly at a site. Most numerous in the Sandhills, where our largest one-day totals have been made.
flight The flight occurs nearly throughout the odonate flight season, as the Coastal Plain records fall from early April to mid-November. The Piedmont flight occurs between late April and early November, while the mountain flight starts slightly later -- mid-May to early November.
habitat Extremely widespread in habitats. Around small streams, ditches, pond margins, and other slow waters; usually where there are grasses and sedges. May often feed well away from water.
comments As the name implies, this species has highly variable color patterns, though there is generally some lavender coloration on the thorax. It is another of our more familiar damselflies in the state, being common to very common in each of the three provinces and recorded from every county except for four in the northeastern corner of the state. There are two subspecies in the state -- the dark-winged nominate one (Argia fumipennis fumipennis) is found over most of the Coastal Plain, whereas the clear-winged one (A. fumipennis violacea) occurs over the remainder of the state.
S_rank S5
G_rank G5
date_spread [Overwinter:] [Date Spread:] [No Late Date:] [Split on Feb:] [Default:]
Species account update: LeGrand on 2020-01-24 15:30:11

Photo Gallery for Variable Dancer   44 photos are available.
Only the most recent 30 are shown.
Other NC Galleries:    Jeff Pippen    Will Cook    Ted Wilcox
Photo 1 by: p dixon

Comment: Madison, 2020-07-01, Hot Springs area
Photo 2 by: Ken Kneidel

Comment: Burke; P, 2020-06-26, McGaillard Falls Park
Photo 3 by: Doug Allen

Comment: Polk; P, 2020-06-14, Caroland Farms NC section private ponds
Photo 4 by: Mike Turner

Comment: Cumberland, 2020-05-18, retention pond @ 35.0858, -78.9181
Photo 5 by: Aaron Edmonds

Comment: Harnett; C, 2019-05-11, Campbell University- Marshbanks Property
Photo 6 by: Ken Kneidel

Comment: Burke; P, 2018-08-17, McGaillard Falls Park
Photo 7 by: Mike Turner

Comment: Forsyth, 2018-07-01, Winston Lake - ad.males
Photo 8 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Transylvania, 2018-06-27, Gorges State Park (GORG) - at Raymond Fisher Pond
Photo 9 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Jackson, 2018-06-25, Pond beside Breedlove Road, 5 km northeast of Cashiers
Photo 10 by: Ken Kneidel

Comment: Yancey, 2018-06-16,
Photo 11 by: Aaron Edmonds

Comment: Harnett; C, 2018-05-15, Flat Branch
Photo 12 by: Guy McGrane

Comment: Watauga, 2017-08-05, Brookshire Park - pair in Tandem, and separate male photographed.
Photo 13 by: Vin Stanton

Comment: Buncombe, 2017-07-25, Ledges River Park, French Broad River - Male
Photo 14 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Alleghany, 2017-06-28, Little Glade Mill Pond, Blue Ridge Parkway
Photo 15 by: Rob Van Epps

Comment: Mecklenburg, 2017-06-13, - Roosevelt Wilson Park; Davidson, NC
Photo 16 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Rutherford; P, 2017-06-02, Morse Park, Lake Lure
Photo 17 by: Mark Shields, Hunter Phillips

Comment: Scotland, 2017-05-15, Scotland Lake and in-flowing creek, Sandhills Game Land
Photo 18 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Onslow, 2016-08-30, retention ponds, Coastal Carolina Community College, Jacksonville
Photo 19 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Bladen, 2016-06-10, Jones Lake
Photo 20 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Onslow, 2015-07-13, Coastal Carolina Community College, Jacksonville - Female. In grass along edge of woods; male seen but not photographed
Photo 21 by: Curtis Smalling

Comment: Avery, 2015-07-03, Banner Elk Greenway Trail
Photo 22 by: Curtis Smalling

Comment: Wilkes; M, 2015-06-16, WRC fishing put in on Triplett Rd.
Photo 23 by: Curtis Smalling

Comment: McDowell; P, 2015-06-04, Hwy 221 Baseball field park on Linville River
Photo 24 by: Jason Love

Comment: Macon, 2015-05-25, Found in backyard; 2450 Middle Creek Rd., Otto, NC - Female, netted, photo, released
Photo 25 by: Joe Lafferty

Comment: Brunswick, 2014-10-07, Sea Trail, Sunset Beach
Photo 26 by: Doug Johnston, Vin Stanton

Comment: Graham, 2013-07-16, Tallulah Bog - Male & Female
Photo 27 by: George Andrews

Comment: Mecklenburg, 2013-05-15, Colonel Beatty Park - temp near 90°F, clear, gusty wind
Photo 28 by: Nancy Cowal

Comment: McDowell; M, 2012-08-31, Old Fort / submitted by Vin Stanton - Male
Photo 29 by: Vin Stanton, Doug Johnston, Simon Thompson

Comment: Polk; P, 2012-08-04, FENCE - Male & Female
Photo 30 by: Mike Turner

Comment: Wake, 2012-08-03, Lake Raleigh