|Tramea is a dragonfly genus in the
family of skimmer and percher dragonflies (Libellulidae). They typically
have colored bases to their otherwise translucent hindwings. In particular
when they fly, this creates the impression of them carrying bags at the
start of their abdomen; hence they are commonly known as saddlebags gliders.
The genus contains around 21 species.
Tramea abdominalis (Rambur 1842),
the Vermilion Saddlebags is found in America, including Argentina, Brazil,
Bahamas, Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Guatemala, Hispaniola,
Honduras, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Lesser Antilles, Mexico, Nicaragua,
Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, Paraguay, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela, Virgin
Isl. and USA. In USA, it
was originally known only from south
Florida, but several years ago it was found in deep south Texas as well.
The species has different shaped
maculation on the wings from our more familiar saddlebags as well as a
different pattern of black spots on the dorsal side of the outer abdominal
segments. Regarding pattern, it is intermediate between T. onusta (thorax
unmarked, last segments with reduced black) and T. calverti (less distinct
and sharp bordered maculate patches in the hindwing). In these repects,
T. abdominalis look a bit alike T. insularis, from the West Indies. T.
abdominalis has a darker frons, purple on top, and much longer cerci. The
latter is an easy way to distinguish males. Females are more similar, but
T. insularis has a touch of purple on the frons lacking in T. abdominalis.
The Saddlebag dragonflies have a diagnostic habit in flying with the abdomen
held downwards, hanging. The obvious maculated patches in the wing (from
which they get their names) are accentuated when doing so.