Tramea lacerata

Black Saddlebags

Tramea lacerata, Black Saddlebags

Family: Libellulidae

Length: typically 51-55 mm


The Black Saddlebags may be found in a variety of wetlands, and at lakes, man-made ponds, and vernal pools in the Mountain State. They are not commonly observed along streams.

The species name comes from the large dark spot on each hind wing. The stigmas are brown, while the forewings are essentially clear.


Tramea lacerata, Black Saddlebags, head and thoraxOn the abdomen, there are a series of whitish to yellow to orange spots on segments three through seven. These fade with time, and older individuals may have only a single spot visible, on segment seven, or may show no spots at all.

Males and females are quite similar, and are best distinguished by examining the terminal appendages. If you are able to view the face, the face is yellowish-brown in females and immatures males, but becomes black in mature males.

The males patrol large territories, alternately gliding and working their wings. Females lay their eggs by tapping the tip of their abdomen against the waters surface while in flight.

Tramea lacerata, Black Saddlebags, maturing male
Above: As Black Saddlebags age, the yellowish spots began to fade; on this individual only two spots are still distinct. In contrast, the immature Black Saddlebags in the very first photo on this page has all of the yellow spots visible.


Black Saddlebags, dorsal view of head and thorax

Dense, pale hairs on the thorax are characteristic of the species, though these wear off with time.

Insects of West Virginia