Celithemis elisa

Calico Pennant

Celithemis elisa, Calico Pennant

Family: Libellulidae

Length: typically about 30 mm


One of the most attractive of our dragonflies, the Calico Pennant has patterned wings, bright stigmas, and colorful markings along the abdomen. Calico Pennants all begin their adult life with yellow abdominal markings and yellow stigmas. As males mature, the yellow gives way to red, while females retain the yellow colors.

No other dragonfly in our state has this combination of markings. For the mature male, these include red heart-shaped markings along the top of the abdomen, and red stigmas. Coloration on the sides of the thorax is reddish, and the face is red too. Wings include several brown spots (see photos), though note that an occasional individual is missing some of the spots.

Calico Pennant, Celithemis elisaFemales and immature males have yellow spots on the abdomen, not quite as heart-shaped as on the mature males. The spot patterns on the wing are essentially the same as with mature males, but the stigmas are yellow instead of red.

These dragonflies are reasonably common, and sometimes one encounters a pond where a hundred or more Calico Pennants are flying. This species lives at a variety of habitats: alongside lakes, near coal mine settlement ponds and bogs, and beside slow-moving streams.

Calico Pennant, Celithemis elisa male, face
Above: Male Calico Pennant. Note the bristly dorsal surface of the thorax. The sides of the thorax are reddish with some darker color mixed in.  


Calico Pennant, Celithemis elisa

The face of the mature male Calico Pennant is bright red. 


Calico Pennant, Celithemis elisa, grooming face
This male Calico Pennant is rotating his head so he can clean his eyes, affording a nice view of the face. 

Insects of West Virginia