Behavior

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Dragonflies have exceptionally good vision and use it to communicate with other dragonflies, to catch their prey, and to avoid being eaten. They may also communicate with touch when mating.

Communication Channels: visual ; tactile

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile

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Dixon, G. 2001. "Tramea lacerata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Tramea_lacerata.html
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Ginger Dixon, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Conservation Status

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Tramea lacerata is abundant and widespread. They are not currently considered species of concern in any area they live.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

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Dixon, G. 2001. "Tramea lacerata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Tramea_lacerata.html
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Ginger Dixon, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Life Cycle

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Larvae are aquatic. Their gills are folded inside the abdomen to avoid harm. They take in water through their anus and pass it over their gills to breath. After internal metamorphosis occurs, with the adult body forming under the skin, an adult black saddlebags will emerge from the water and grasp a branch where it will complete the rest of its transformation. The cuticle begins to split apart due to the pressure exerted through a series of air intakes. The newly emerged adult, which is quite delicate until the new cuticle hardens, will then crawl out of its old skin (exuviae), allow the wings to open and harden, and then fly away.

Development - Life Cycle: metamorphosis

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Dixon, G. 2001. "Tramea lacerata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Tramea_lacerata.html
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Ginger Dixon, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Benefits

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There are no negative impacts of black saddlebags for humans.

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Dixon, G. 2001. "Tramea lacerata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Tramea_lacerata.html
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Ginger Dixon, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Benefits

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Tramea lacerata is an important agent of bio-control and an indicator of ecosystem health. In both life stages of its life, black saddlebags consume a large quantity of various pest insects, such as mosquitoes. In reference to the impact the Odonata in general have on our environment, Dunkle states, "...They are one of the most visible indicators of wetland diversity and health, and their population changes allow monitoring of environmental changes" (Dunkle 2000).

Positive Impacts: controls pest population

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Dixon, G. 2001. "Tramea lacerata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Tramea_lacerata.html
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Ginger Dixon, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Associations

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Dragonflies are important predators of insects in the ecosystems in which they live. Larvae and adults also provide food for predatory fish and for birds.

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Dixon, G. 2001. "Tramea lacerata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Tramea_lacerata.html
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Ginger Dixon, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Trophic Strategy

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Tramea lacerata is a member of the Libellulidae family, also known as common skippers. They use a gliding feeding style, using their long, broad hind wings to glide as they pick insect prey from the air. Tramea lacerata individuals are rarely seen perching, but occasionally will rest on the tips of branches between feeding glides. When food is ample in a particular area, feeding swarms may form. These are often made up of only males but can be mixed sex swarms as well. No feeding swarms of only females have been observed.

Animal Foods: insects

Primary Diet: carnivore (Insectivore )

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Dixon, G. 2001. "Tramea lacerata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Tramea_lacerata.html
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Ginger Dixon, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Distribution

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Tramea lacerata is found throughout much of Mexico and the United States as far north as Maine, northernmost Vermont, and Montana. Also called black saddlebags, this species ranges south to Baja California and Quintana Roo, Mexico, and is also found on the Hawai'ian islands, the Florida Keys, Bermuda, and Cuba. Tramea lacerata is also found in the Canadian provinces of Quebec, Ontario, and British Columbia.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native )

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Dixon, G. 2001. "Tramea lacerata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Tramea_lacerata.html
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Ginger Dixon, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Habitat

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Tramea lacerata prefers stagnant or slow moving bodies of water, like those found in ditches, ponds, and small lakes. They flourish in bodies of water that lack predatory fishes. Still waters allow females to lay their eggs in characteristic "dipping" manner, without the eggs being swept away. Adults are often seen gliding in wetlands and grasslands near water.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial ; freshwater

Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland

Aquatic Biomes: lakes and ponds; temporary pools

Wetlands: marsh ; bog

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Dixon, G. 2001. "Tramea lacerata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Tramea_lacerata.html
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Ginger Dixon, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Life Expectancy

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No information was found on the lifespan of black saddlebags.

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Dixon, G. 2001. "Tramea lacerata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Tramea_lacerata.html
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Ginger Dixon, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Morphology

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Tramea lacerata, although fairly common, are striking insects. The hind wings are quite long and wide, with irridescent black bands on the medial parts of the wings, giving them their characteristic "saddlebags" appearance. The rest of the wing is clear. Tramea lacerata is a medium to large species of Odonata, about 5.33 cm. The body has a streamlined, teardrop shape. Males are predominately black, with deeper coloring than females. Females are larger, and have a whitish-yellow spotted pattern on the dorsal side of their abdomen. Recently emerged males appear similar to females. Females and newly emerged individuals also have lighter faces, almost yellow in color, that distinguishes them from males. Tramea lacerata has black legs in both genders.

Average length: 5.33 cm.

Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: female larger; sexes colored or patterned differently

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Dixon, G. 2001. "Tramea lacerata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Tramea_lacerata.html
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Ginger Dixon, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Associations

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Dragonflies are preyed on by aquatic predators, such as fish, when they are larvae. As adults, they may be eaten by birds such as American kestrels and common nighthawks. Their maneuverability and their exceptional sense of vision keeps them safe from most predators when they are flying adults. Larvae are usually aggressive and well-armed predators as well. They can rapidly eject water from their abdomen to shoot out of the way of predators underwater.

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Dixon, G. 2001. "Tramea lacerata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Tramea_lacerata.html
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Ginger Dixon, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Reproduction

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Tramea lacerata has been called "dancing glider" because of its rhythmic mating style. They mate on the branches of trees that are near water. The male will hover over the female until it is within range to grasp her head and thorax. Next, he will attach his hind quarters to the back of her head, assuming the position known as "tandem." During this phase, the male is collecting sperm from his primary copulatory apparatus, located on his ninth abdominal segment. The two will then adjust their bodies to allow the joining of their genital openings. They form a ring, which is called the "wheel position," in which fertilization occurs. Most of the 8 to 15 minutes that are spent mating is take up by the male removing the female's preexisting sperm deposit. The penis is modified for this purpose, being long enough to penetrate the females' oviduct and to remove the existing sperm. Upon completion of their first breeding, females will have enough sperm to last them a lifetime and mating is not a frequently observed event. After fertilization, the male will release the female and she will gracefully dip to the water to lay her eggs. He will continue to hover over her as she does so, and the two appear to be "dancing." When she is finished, he will grasp her again, and the process will continue.

Mating System: polygynandrous (promiscuous)

Females lay their eggs in stagnant or very slow moving waters. They will dip down to the water (exophytic reproduction) and drop the eggs into the water. Some of them migrate to the north in the spring, where they will breed.

Breeding season: Breeding occurs during warm weather.

Key Reproductive Features: seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization (Internal ); oviparous

Once the female lays the eggs there is no more parental involvement in the young.

Parental Investment: no parental involvement; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female)

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Dixon, G. 2001. "Tramea lacerata" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Tramea_lacerata.html
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Ginger Dixon, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Phil Myers, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Behaviour

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Tramea uses a "gliding" flight style.
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Reproduction

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Females oviposit exophytically. Mated pairs use a form of tandem oviposition, "interrupted tandem oviposition", where they separate and then rejoin several times during oviposition.
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Taxon Biology

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Hind wings have an expanded anal vein region.
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Black saddlebags

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The black saddlebags (Tramea lacerata) is a species of skimmer dragonfly found throughout North America. It has distinctive wings with characteristic black blotches at their proximal ends, which make the dragonfly look as though it is wearing saddlebags.

The black saddlebags is a relatively large dragonfly at about 5 centimeters in length. The body is thin and black, and the female may have lighter spotting or mottling dorsally. The head is much wider than the rest of the body and is dark brown in color.

The insect can be found at bodies of stagnant water, such as ponds and ditches.

Reproduction

Like all dragonflies, Tramea lacerata pairs mate in the "wheel" position. The female mates once and stores all the sperm she needs for fertilization. If she should mate again, the second male will remove the sperm of the first male from her body with the brush-like apparatus on his specially-adapted penis. [1] During egg laying, the male releases the female so she can drop down to the water to release some eggs, whereupon she returns to the clutches of the male's claspers. [2]

The larvae of the dragonflies hatch and eat anything they can catch, favoring a carnivorous diet of organisms smaller than themselves. Adults of the species, especially males, congregate in swarms. Some populations of this dragonfly undertake migrations. Both the larvae and adult forms are efficient predators of mosquitoes, so they are a helpful insect to have in wet areas where mosquito infestations occur.

References

  1. ^ "Black Saddlebags Dragonfly (Family Libellulidae)". University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. September 22, 2015.
  2. ^ Mead, Kurt (2009). Dragonflies of the North Woods. Duluth, MN: Kollath Stensaas Publishing. p. 173. ISBN 978-0-9792006-5-6.

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Black saddlebags: Brief Summary

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The black saddlebags (Tramea lacerata) is a species of skimmer dragonfly found throughout North America. It has distinctive wings with characteristic black blotches at their proximal ends, which make the dragonfly look as though it is wearing saddlebags.

The black saddlebags is a relatively large dragonfly at about 5 centimeters in length. The body is thin and black, and the female may have lighter spotting or mottling dorsally. The head is much wider than the rest of the body and is dark brown in color.

The insect can be found at bodies of stagnant water, such as ponds and ditches.

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