Entomology (Study of Bugs)/possible dragonfly


QUESTION: I looked onto my patio around noon 8/11 and observed a flying insect about 3-4 inch wingspan land on a dead gerber daisy in a pot on my patio table. I was so fascinated because it was a deep red with clear wings and quite a long thin "hose like" part hanging separate from its back underneath.  It then hovered and darted around near the roof and then came to rest again on the dead flower stem.  It seemed to be busy but I could not see what it was doing (sucking or depositing?) I never saw anything like it before around here.  We live in South Carolina near Columbia.  What could it be? The coloring also had some black in the body parts.  Could it be some type of dragonfly? Could it bite or sting?  Is it something rare? I would really like to know.  I appreciate any info you can give me. Thanks.

ANSWER: Ginger:

Your description is very puzzling.  Behavior sounds like a dragonfly that perhaps had prey.  I need more information:

Were the wings held straight out from the body so that all four were visible?  If so, then a dragonfly of some kind.  Otherwise?  Well, I need much more detail.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for answering.  Yes, the wings were held out straight from the body.  Could you maybe tell me more about this type of a dragonfly?  Are they common?  I never in my life saw anything like it. Thanks again



There are many, many species of dragonflies in your area.  So many, in fact, that the Dragonfly Society of the Americas held their annual field trips and meetings in South Carolina last May.

I would start with this link:


and see if you can find a potential match there.  Click the "browse" or "images" tab on the above link and you will get images arranged by genus (and species under the genus).  You can also do an "advanced search" by clicking on the "search" in the top right corner, then clicking "advanced search," type in "Libellulidae" in the taxon number, and then click "South Carolina" in the listing of states.

Hope this gets you started.


Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Eric R. Eaton


I answer insect and spider identification questions ONLY. Attach images if possible. No "what bit me?", "what do I feed this bug in captivity?", or science fair project questions please. NO TECHNICAL QUESTIONS ABOUT INSECT PHYSIOLOGY.


Principal author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America. Professional entomologist employed previously at University of Massachusetts, Chase Studio, Inc., and Cincinnati Zoo; contract work for West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, Smithsonian Institution, and Portland (Oregon) State University.

Author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Missouri Conservationist magazine, Ranger Rick, Birds & Blooms, Timeline (journal of the Ohio Historical Society). I have contributed to several books as well.

Oregon State University, undergraduate major in entomology, did not receive degree.

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One of the top 50 experts in all categories for AllExperts.com, 2009.

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Principal author of the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Smithsonian Institution (contract), Cincinnati Zoo (employer), Portland State University (contract), Chase Studio, Inc (employer), Arkansas Museum of Discovery (guest speaker). Currently seeking speaking engagements, leadership roles at nature festivals, workshops, and ecotours.

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