Minnesota Dragonfly

Red Saddlebags

Tramea onusta

The Red Saddlebags is an easily identified skimmer. Mature males are mostly red with red veining at the front of their wings, large brown wing patches with red veins on the hind wings, and a red abdomen with black top spots on segments 8 and 9


Field Marks
  • Average adult size is approximately from 1.6 to 2.0 inches
  • Face is orange-brown turning red as they mature
  • Red eyes
  • Reddish-brown unmarked thorax
  • Long, narrow, pointed hamule which extends past the genital lobe
  • Red abdomen, when mature, with black spots on the top of segments 8 and 9
  • Long cerci
  • Dark brown patches at the base of the hind wing, with red veining, and a clear spot or window
  • Red veining on the leading edge of each wing

Click on photos above for a close-up view.

Field Marks
  • Duller in color than the males. With immature females mostly tan, turning a reddish brown as they mature
  • Black spots on segments 8 and 9 may be smaller than those on the males
  • Subgenital plates close together and slightly longer than segment 9
  • Cerci longer than segments 9 and 10 combined

Click on photos above for a close-up view.

Natural History


Once a rare site in Minnesota the Red Saddlebags range has seemed to expand northward. They are now often seen across much of the state. They are strong flyers that typically migrate into Minnesota from the south during the summer. They can often be found feeding in mixed swarms of darners, gliders and saddlebags


Permanent or temporary lakes, ponds and slow-moving streams, preferably with little mud and no fish


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 she flies back up the male grabs here in tandem again, ensuring that she cannot mate with another male

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.