Blackwater Bluet

Enallagma weewa Byers, 1927

Steve Walter

Insecta (Insects)
Coenagrionidae (Pond Damsels)
State Protection
Not Listed
Not listed or protected by New York State.
Federal Protection
Not Listed
State Conservation Status Rank
Critically Imperiled in New York - Especially vulnerable to disappearing from New York due to extreme rarity or other factors; typically 5 or fewer populations or locations in New York, very few individuals, very restricted range, very few remaining acres (or miles of stream), and/or very steep declines.
Global Conservation Status Rank
Secure globally - Common in the world; widespread and abundant (but may be rare in some parts of its range).


Did you know?

The immature male Blackwater Bluet is similar in appearance to the adult female until it matures later in the flight season (Lam 2004). This is true for many odonate species, but male and female reproductive structures remain distinctive throughout their lives.

State Ranking Justification

In New York, Blackwater Bluets have only been confirmed at two locations in Suffolk County within one kilometer of each other, likely representing a single metapopulation (New York Natural Heritage Program 2011a). In addition to a highly restricted range in New York, there are a number of threats at the locations where it is known to occur (see Conservation and Management section).

Short-term Trends

The Blackwater Bluet was first documented in New York in 1998 and has since been observed at locations in Suffolk County (New York Natural Heritage Program 2011a). Sightings of this species are fairly recent and rare in New York; therefore, short-term trends are unclear.

Long-term Trends

Recent observations since the late 1990s have been made at two locations on Long Island, but information prior to this is not available for New York (New York Natural Heritage Program 2011a). Since observations are fairly recent, long-term trends are unclear.

Conservation and Management


Any activity which might lead to water contamination or the alteration of natural hydrology could impact Blackwater Bluet populations (NYS DEC 2006). Such threats might include roadway and agricultural run-off, ditching and filling, eutrophication and nutrient loading from fertilizers, herbicides, and septic systems, changes in dissolved oxygen content, and development (NYS DEC 2006). Groundwater withdrawal is a potential threat in lentic habitats on Long Island (New York Natural Heritage Program 2011). The introduction of grass carp is also a threat to coastal plain ponds on Long Island (New York Natural Heritage Program 2011b). In addition, both emergence rates and/or species ranges may shift for odonate species as a result of climate change (Kalkman et al. 2008).

Conservation Strategies and Management Practices

Any efforts to reduce roadway and agricultural run-off, eutrophication, development of upland borders to ponds and resulting increased groundwater withdrawal, invasive plant and animal species, trampling of vegetation from recreation, and ditching and filling activities should be considered when managing for this species (NYS DEC 2006, White et al. 2010). Maintenance or restoration of native shoreline vegetation and surrounding upland habitat should benefit this species, as females in this genus require native emergent vegetation for successful reproduction and spend much of their time in upland habitats away from the breeding pond (Gibbons et al. 2002, White et al. 2010).

Research Needs

Further inventory is needed to define the extent of populations of Blackwater Bluets in New York, and additional survey work in streams, rivers, and coastal plain ponds on Long Island could reveal new populations. In addition, research is required to understand the habitat requirements of this species, and to create appropriate management guidelines for its persistence in known locations (NYS DEC 2006).



Throughout the Northeast, Blackwater Bluets are found in streams and rivers and more rarely in lakes (Lam 2004). However, the two New York sites are coastal plain ponds; one is surrounded by coastal plain poor fen (New York Natural Heritage Program 2011a).

Associated Ecological Communities

  • Coastal plain pond (guide)
    The aquatic community of the permanently flooded portion of a coastal plain pond with seasonally, and annually fluctuating water levels. These are shallow, groundwater-fed ponds that occur in kettle-holes or shallow depressions in the outwash plains south of the terminal moraines of Long Island, and New England. A series of coastal plain ponds are often hydrologically connected, either by groundwater, or sometimes by surface flow in a small coastal plain stream.
  • Coastal plain poor fen (guide)
    A wetland on the coastal plain fed by somewhat mineral-rich groundwater and slow decomposition rates of plant materials in the wetland (and thus develops peat). Plants are generally growing in peat composed primarily of Sphagnum mosses with some grass-like and woody components.

Associated Species

  • Skimming Bluet (Enallagma geminatum)
  • Little Bluet (Enallagma minusculum) (guide)
  • Slender Bluet (Enallagma traviatum)
  • Blue Corporal (Ladona deplanata)
  • Spangled Skimmer (Libellula cyanea)
  • Elfin Skimmer (Nannothemis bella)
  • Sphagnum Sprite (Nehalennia gracilis)


New York State Distribution

New York lies near the northern edge of the species' range. There are only two known populations in Suffolk County where Enallagma weewa occurs, and these are separated by approximately one kilometer from each other (New York Natural Heritage Program 2011a).

Global Distribution

Blackwater Bluet has a total known range in the eastern U.S. along the Atlantic and Gulf coastal plain, from Louisianna northward to Rhode Island (Abbott 2007, NatureServe 2010).

Best Places to See

  • Cranberry Bog County Nature Preserve (Suffolk County)

Identification Comments

Identifying Characteristics

New York has 23 species in the genus Enallagma (White et al. 2010). However, most Bluets have more blue on their bodies than the Blackwater Bluet. Adult males are mostly black on the head, thorax, and abdomen except for a pale gray color on the sides of the thorax and a blue abdominal segment nine (Lam 2004). Females and immature males have a black head with a narrow blue band behind the eyes. The thorax has a brown mid-dorsal stripe, with blue, brown, and black shoulder stripes, and pale blue below. The abdomen is dark above, pale blue below, but abdominal segment 10 and most of nine are blue (Lam 2004).

Characters Most Useful for Identification

Males have dark bodies with a blue tip on abdominal segment nine (Lam 2004).

Best Life Stage for Proper Identification



Damselfly larvae and adults are predatory, preying on relatively smaller invertebrates.

Best Time to See

In New York, adult Enallagma weewa have been documented from July through the first half of August (Donnelly 1999, White et al. 2010). New Jersey flight dates range from the first part of June through mid-September (Bangma & Barlow 2010).

  • Present
  • Reproducing

The time of year you would expect to find Blackwater Bluet present and reproducing in New York.

Similar Species

  • Blue-tipped Dancer (Argia tibialis) (guide)
    Blue-tipped Dancer males are stockier than Blackwater Bluets and their abdominal segments nine and 10 are blue (Lam 2004). Blue-tipped Dancers have not been documented on Long Island (White et al. 2010).
  • Turquoise Bluet (Enallagma divagans)
    Female Turquoise Bluets have wider blue and narrower dark shoulder stripes and more blue on their abdominal segments eight and nine than do Blackwater Bluets (Lam 2004).
  • Stream Bluet (Enallagma exsulans)
    Female Stream Bluets are very similar in appearance to Blackwater Bluets, but pale areas are green rather than the blue of the Blackwater Bluet (Lam 2004). Male Stream Bluets have terminal appendages of similar shape, but differ remarkably in coloration to Blackwater Bluets (Westfall & May 1996).

Blackwater Bluet Images


Blackwater Bluet
Enallagma weewa Byers, 1927

  • Kingdom Animalia
    • Phylum Arthropoda (Mandibulates)
      • Class Insecta (Insects)
        • Order Odonata (Dragonflies and Damselflies)
          • Family Coenagrionidae (Pond Damsels)

Additional Resources


Abbott, J.C. 2007. OdonataCentral: An online resource for the odonata of North America. Austin, Texas. Available at

Bangma J. and Barlow A. 2010. NJODES; The dragonflies and damselflies of New Jersey.<>.

Donnelly, T.W. 1999. The dragonflies and damselflies of New York. Prepared for the 1999 International Congress of Odonatology and First Symposium of the Worldwide Dragonfly Association. July 11-16, 1999. Colgate University, Hamilton, New York. 39 pp.

Gibbons, L.K., J.M. Reed, and F.S. Chew. 2002. Habitat requirements and local persistence of three damselfly species (Odonata: Coenagrionidae). Journal of Insect Conservation 6:47-55.

Kalkman, V. J., V. Clausnitzer, K. B. Dijkstra, A. G. Orr, D. R. Paulson, and J. van Tol. 2008. Global diversity of dragonflies (Odonata) in freshwater. Hydrobiologia 595:351-363.

Lam, E. 2004. Damselflies of the northeast: A guide to the species of eastern Canada and the northeastern United States. Biodiversity Books, Forest Hills, New York. 96 pp.

NatureServe. 2010. NatureServe Explorer: An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 7.1. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. Available (Data last updated August 2010)

New York Natural Heritage Program. 2011a. Biotics database. New York Natural Heritage Program. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Albany, NY.

New York Natural Heritage Program. 2011b. Online Conservation Guide for Coastal Plain Pond. Available from:

New York Natural Heritage Program. 2024. New York Natural Heritage Program Databases. Albany, NY.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Fish, Wildlife, and Marine Resources. 2006. New York State Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy. Albany, NY: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Westfall, M.J. Jr. and M.L. May. 1996. Damselflies of North America. Scientific Publishers. Gainesville, FL. 649 pp.

White, Erin L., Jeffrey D. Corser, and Matthew D. Schlesinger. 2010. The New York Dragonfly and Damselfly Survey 2005-2009: distribution and status of the odonates of New York. New York Natural Heritage Program, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Albany, NY. 450 pp.


About This Guide

This guide was authored by: Erin L. White

Information for this guide was last updated on: November 26, 2019

Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2024. Online Conservation Guide for Enallagma weewa. Available from: Accessed July 19, 2024.