Perithemis tenera

Eastern Amberwing

Perithemis tenera, Eastern Amberwing

Family: Libellulidae

Length: typically about 23 mm


With its tiny size and its yellow and brown coloration, this diminutive dragonfly is easy to mistake for a wasp. In fact, it has adopted several behavior patterns to mislead would-be predators into thinking that it is indeed a wasp.

For the male, the tiny size, amber colored wings, and red stigmas, are diagnostic. Females in West Virginia have clear wings with brown spots and bands (see photo). Sometimes the female's wings have some amber coloration toward the base.

Ponds and lakes are the most common habitat for this species. Eastern Amberwings generally don't appear at rivers, unless at a calm backwater pool of a river.

Despite their tiny size, the males fiercely guard their small territoriesan area about five feet in diameter with a good egg-laying site at center.

Eastern Amberwing, Perithemis tenera female

Typical wing pattern of the Eastern Amberwing female. Note the abdomen, which is considerably thicker than that of the male. 


Eastern Amberwing, Perithemis tenera teneral with exuviae

This Eastern Amberwing has just emerged from the larval skin.  

Insects of West Virginia