Dusky Dancer

Argia translata Hagen in Selys, 1865

Alan W. Wells

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?

Dusky Dancers can be found in a variety of freshwater habitats, ranging from small to large rivers to wind-swept lakes (Lam 2004).

State Ranking Justification

In New York, Argia translata was known from eight counties (Donnelly 1999) in the southern Hudson Valley and southern tier prior to the beginning of the New York Dragonfly and Damselfly Survey (NYDDS, 2005-2009). It was documented in 10 locations within five counties in this region of the state during the NYDDS (White et al. 2010).

Short-term Trends

In New York, Argia translata was formally known from eight counties (Donnelly 1999) in the southern Hudson Valley and southern tier prior to the beginning of the New York Dragonfly and Damselfly Survey (NYDDS, 2005-2009). It was documented in 10 locations within five counties in this region of the state during the NYDDS (White et al. 2010). Despite the increased survey effort during the NYDDS, county observations decreased which could be reflective of a population decline.

Long-term Trends

Long-term information regarding population size is not available prior to the late 1990s (New York Natural Heritage Program 2017). Since observations are fairly recent, and the full extent and size of the populations have not been determined, long-term trends are unclear.

Conservation and Management


Any activity which might lead to water contamination or the alteration of natural hydrology could affect Dusky Dancer populations (NYS DEC 2005). Such threats may include roadway and agricultural run-off, industrial pollution, the building of dams, recreational boating, and development near their habitats (NYS DEC 2005). Groundwater withdrawal is a potential threat in lentic habitats, as are invasive plant species replacing native plants required for oviposition (New York Natural Heritage Program 2017). Both emergence rates and/or species ranges may shift for odonate species as a result of climate change (Corser et al. 2015).

Conservation Strategies and Management Practices

Any efforts to reduce roadway and agricultural run-off, eutrophication, development of upland borders and resulting increased groundwater withdrawal, and ditching and filling activities should be considered when managing for this species (NYS DEC 2005).

Research Needs

Further research is needed to define the distribution and population size of the Dusky Dancer. In addition, research is required to understand the habitat requirements and threats to this species, and to create appropriate management guidelines for its persistence in known locations (NYS DEC 2005).



Dusky Dancers are known to inhabitat rivers and creeks of various sizes as well as wind-swept lakes in New York (Lam 2004, NY Natural Heritage Program 2017).

Associated Ecological Communities

  • Confined river* (guide)
    The aquatic community of relatively large, fast flowing sections of streams with a moderate to gentle gradient.
  • Mesotrophic dimictic lake* (guide)
    The aquatic community of a lake that is intermediate between an oligotrophic lake and a eutrophic lake. These lakes are dimictic: they have two periods of mixing or turnover (spring and fall); they are thermally stratified in the summer, and they freeze over and become inversely stratified in the winter.

* probable association but not confirmed.

Associated Species

  • Variable Dancer (Argia fumipennis violacea)
  • Skimming Bluet (Enallagma geminatum)
  • Orange Bluet (Enallagma signatum)
  • Prince Baskettail (Epitheca princeps)
  • Swamp Spreadwing (Lestes vigilax)
  • Slaty Skimmer (Libellula incesta)
  • Widow Skimmer (Libellula luctuosa)
  • Eastern Amberwing (Perithemis tenera)


New York State Distribution

Dusky Dancer is restricted to the southern half of the state and has been documented in ten New York counties in the southern Hudson Valley and the southern tier (Donnelly 1999, White et al. 2010).

Global Distribution

The global range for Dusky Dancer extends from northern South America northward to southern Ontario, Canada (Abbott 2006-2017). New York lies in the northeast corner of the overall range.

Best Places to See

  • Harriman State Park (Rockland County)

Identification Comments

Identifying Characteristics

Dusky Dancer males have violet eyes and mostly black bodies with thin blue rings on the abdominal segments. The lower portion of his thorax is pale or powdery and immature males may have thin yellow shoulder stripes on the thorax. Females are polymorphic and light areas may be brown, greenish brown, or pale blue. They have eye spots and a long pale wedge splitting the black shoulder stripe (Lam 2004, Paulson 2011). 


Dusky Dancer larvae feed on smaller aquatic invertebrates and adults feed on insects which they capture in flight.

Best Time to See

Dusky dancer adults have been found in New York from June through the first half of September. Larvae may be found in appropriate habitats year-round.

  • Present
  • Reproducing

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

Similar Species

  • Blue-tipped Dancer (Argia tibialis) (guide)
    Male Blue-tipped Dancers have blue on segments 9 and 9 of the abdomen, while Dusky Dancer males have only a small blue ring on segment 9 and segment 10 is black. Female duskies have eyespots and a long pale wedge marking dividing the black shoulder stripe (Lam 2004).

Dusky Dancer Images


Dusky Dancer
Argia translata Hagen in Selys, 1865

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

Additional Resources


Abbott, J.C. 2006-2017. OdonataCentral: An online resource for the distribution and identification of Odonata. Available at http://www.odonatacentral.org. (Accessed: March 17, 2017).

Corser, Jeffrey D, Erin L. White and Matthew D. Schlesinger. 2015. Adult activity and temperature preference drives region-wide damselfly (Zygoptera) distributions under a warming climate. Biology Letters 11(4): 20150001.

Donnelly, T. W. 1992. The odonata of New York State. Bulletin of American Odonatology. 1(1):1-27.

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.

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.

New York Natural Heritage Program. 2017. Element Occurrence Database.State University of New York College of Environmental Science andForestry, Albany, NY.

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

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. 2005. Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy Planning Database. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Albany, NY.

Paulson, D. 2011. Dragonflies and damselflies of the east. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, USA.

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: March 27, 2017

Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2024. Online Conservation Guide for Argia translata. Available from: https://guides.nynhp.org/dusky-dancer/. Accessed June 23, 2024.