Minnesota Dragonfly

Black Saddlebags

Tramea lacerata

The Black Saddlebags is an easily identified skimmer. Mature males are mostly black with large black wing patches on the hind wings. Females and teneral males have similar wing patches but have lighter faces and thorax and distinctive yellow tops spots on the top of the abdomen


Field Marks
  • Average adult size is approximately from 1.9 to 2.2 inches
  • Dark purple iridescent face
  • Dark Brown, purple tinted, eyes
  • Dark brown and black, unmarked thorax
  • Black legs
  • Abdomen black often with a faint trace of the teneral yellow top spot on segment 7
  • Long cerci, over twice as long as the epiproct
  • Black wing patches at the base of the hind wing that take up around a quarter of the wing
  • Small clear spot, window, in the middle of the dark wing patches

Click on photos above for a close-up view.

Field Marks
  • Brown and black face with red over grey eyes
  • Brown thorax with some black markings
  • Abdomen black with yellow top spots on segments 2 to 7
  • Long cerci, longer than segments 9 and 10 combined

Click on photos above for a close-up view.

Natural History


The Black Saddlebags is fairly migratory in Minnesota, with adults coming from the south in early summer and their offspring emerging in late summer and heading south. They can often be seen hawking with darners, gliders and other saddlebags especially in the late summer.


Marshy lakes, ponds and slow moving streams with a lot of aquatic vegetation. Sometimes also temporary pools.


Typically lay eggs while flying in tandem. Pair fly low above the water. Then the male releases the female who flies down to the water and dips her abdomen once releasing the eggs and as se flies back up the male grabs here in tandem again, ensuring that she can not mate with another male. Rarely females will oviposit on their own

Range Maps

Click on the icons above for this species' range maps

Click here for county and state checklists from Odonata Central.

Range maps and checklists courtesy of Odonata Central. Copyright © 2016 OdonataCentral. All Rights Reserved. Abbott, J.C. 2006-2018. OdonataCentral: An online resource for the distribution and identification of Odonata. Available at www.odonatacentral.org.