Scarlet Bluet

Enallagma pictum Morse, 1895

Scarlet Bluet
Steve Walter

Insecta (Insects)
Coenagrionidae (Pond Damsels)
State Protection
Listed as Threatened by New York State: likely to become Endangered in the foreseeable future. For animals, taking, importation, transportation, or possession is prohibited, except under license or permit. For plants, removal or damage without the consent of the landowner is prohibited.
Federal Protection
Not Listed
State Conservation Status Rank
Imperiled in New York - Very vulnerable to disappearing from New York due to rarity or other factors; typically 6 to 20 populations or locations in New York, very few individuals, very restricted range, few remaining acres (or miles of stream), and/or steep declines.
Global Conservation Status Rank
Vulnerable globally - At moderate risk of extinction due to rarity or other factors; typically 80 or fewer populations or locations in the world, few individuals, restricted range, few remaining acres (or miles of stream), and/or recent and widespread declines.


Did you know?

Female Scarlet Bluets oviposit on the undersides of lily pads and will often be seen resting on the surface of the pads (Nikula et al. 2003).

State Ranking Justification

In New York, Scarlet Bluets have been confirmed in ten locations in Suffolk County (New York Natural Heritage Program 2011). In addition to a restricted range, there are a number of threats to these locations (see Conservation and Management section). New locations in recent years are likely due to increased survey effort rather than a population increase or expansion.

Short-term Trends

Population estimates have been made in recent years as part of a special effort during the New York Dragonfly and Damselfly Survey (2005-2010) (White et al. 2010). Of the ten sites where Scarlet Bluets are known to currently occur, eight sites are estimated to have good or excellent viability (New York Natural Heritage Program 2011). Some sites are in close proximity to each other, and the ten sites may be grouped into five pond complexes. Between 10-100 individuals were estimated in at least one pond from each of these complexes since 2005. Three of the complexes contained at least one pond with over 100 individuals, and there was one pond with over 1,000 individuals estimated in recent years (New York Natural Heritage Program 2011). Recent information on the species prior to 2005 is very limited, with records going back to 1989 at three of the sites. New locations in recent years are likely due to increased survey effort rather than a population increase or expansion and may serve as baseline information to look at future trends.

Long-term Trends

Recent observations since 1989 have been noted at Suffolk County sites and the species had been observed at one additional historical location prior to 1913 (New York Natural Heritage Program 2011). Observations are fairly recent and long-term trends are unclear.

Conservation and Management


Any activity which might lead to water contamination or the alteration of natural hydrology could impact Scarlet Bluet populations (NYS DEC 2005). 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 near their habitats (NYS DEC 2005). Groundwater withdrawal is a potential threat in lentic habitats on Long Island, as are invasive plant species replacing native plants like white water lily that Scarlet Bluet requires for oviposition (New York Natural Heritage Program 2011). The introduction of grass carp is also a threat to coastal plain ponds on Long Island. 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 2005, White et al. 2010). Maintenance or restoration of native shoreline vegetation and surrounding upland habitat will benefit this species, as females 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). Many of the known sites on Long Island are located within or on preserves or protected lands, but the above listed threats might be present on adjacent lands.

Research Needs

Further monitoring is needed to define the extent of populations of Scarlet Bluets in New York. In addition, research is required to understand the habitat requirements and threats to this species. A recovery plan for the species should be developed and appropriate management guidelines should be adopted for its persistence in known locations (NYS DEC 2005).



Scarlet Bluets are found at acidic, sandy, coastal plain ponds with water lilies (Nikula et al. 2003, Lam 2004). Habitats are also known to include bayonet rush (Juncus militarus) along the shoreline (Gibbons et al. 2002, New York Natural Heritage Program 2011), and Gibbons et al. (2002) found that they are mainly in habitats with white water lily (Nymphaea odorata) on Cape Cod. Most known habitats in New York seem to include water lilies, pickerelweed, shorelines of emergent grasses, rushes, or sedges or margins that are boggy (New York Natural Heritage Program 2011).

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 pond shore (guide)
    The gently sloping shore of a coastal plain pond with seasonally and annually fluctuating water levels. Plants growing on the pond shore vary with water levels. In dry years when water levels are low there is often a dense growth of annual sedges, grasses, and herbs. Submerged and floating-leaved aquatic plants, such as fragrant waterlily and pondweeds, may become "stranded" on the exposed shore. In wet years when the water level is high only a few emergents and floating-leaved aquatics may be noticeable. T

Associated Species

  • Comet Darner (Anax longipes) (guide)
  • Martha's Pennant (Celithemis martha)
  • Azure Bluet (Enallagma aspersum)
  • Atlantic Bluet (Enallagma doubledayi)
  • New England Bluet (Enallagma laterale) (guide)
  • Pine Barrens Bluet (Enallagma recurvatum) (guide)
  • Vesper Bluet (Enallagma vesperum)
  • Lilypad Forktail (Ischnura kellicotti)
  • Golden-winged Skimmer (Libellula auripennis) (guide)
  • Carolina Saddlebags (Tramea carolina)


New York State Distribution

In New York, there are 10 known locations in Suffolk County where the species occurs (New York Natural Heritage Program 2011).

Global Distribution

Enallagma pictum has a total known range from New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and southern Maine (NatureServe 2010, Abbott 2007).

Best Places to See

  • As this species is considered sensitive by the NYS DEC, site specific locations are not made available.

Identification Comments

Identifying Characteristics

Most Enallagmas are blue, but E. pictum is orange-red in color (Carpenter, 1991). Males have red faces and a narrow, red band behind the eyes. The thorax is red with black shoulder stripes and the abdomen is black above and orange or buff below (Nikula et al. 2003). Females have similar black patterning to males, but instead of red, pale areas are dull yellow (Lam 2004).

Best Time to See

In New York, most records were documented in mid-July both before and during the NYDDS (New York Natural Heritage Program 2011) and the species is known to fly in New York from June 17 through July 27 (Donnelly 1999). New Jersey flight dates are from mid-May to mid-September (Bangma & Barlow 2010) and at their northern range extent, they are known to fly in Maine from early July to late August (Brunelle & deMaynadier 2005).

  • Present
  • Reproducing

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

Similar Species

  • Eastern Red Damsel (Amphiagrion saucium)
    Eastern Red Damsels have mostly red abdomens and no narrow red band behind the eyes (Nikula et al. 2003, Lam 2004).
  • Orange Bluet (Enallagma signatum)
    Orange Bluets are orange on abdominal segment 9 and they are not as red overall as Scarlet Bluets (Nikula et al. 2003).
  • Lilypad Forktail (Ischnura kellicotti)
    (Immature female Lilypad Forktails are red or orange, but have red or orange on abdominal segments 8-10, while Scarlet Bluets do not (Nikula et al. 2003, Lam 2004). Lilypad Forktails also have larger spots behind the eyes than Scarlet Bluets (Nikula et al. 2003).
  • Eastern Forktail (Ischnura verticalis)
    Immature female Eastern Forktails are orange, but have narrower black shoulder stripes and larger spots behind the eyes than Scarlet Bluets (Lam 2004).

Scarlet Bluet Images


Scarlet Bluet
Enallagma pictum Morse, 1895

  • 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.<>.

Brunelle, P.-M. and P. deMaynadier. 2005. The Maine Dameslfly and Dragonfly Survey: A Final Report. 2nd edition. Report prepared for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW), Bangor, Maine. November 1, 2005. 31 pp.

Carpenter, V. 1991. Dragonflies and Damselflies of Cape Cod. The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History: Brewster, Massachusetts. 79 pp.

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. 2011. Biotics database. New York Natural Heritage Program. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. 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.

Nikula, B., J.L. Loose, and M.R. Burne. 2003. A field guide to the dragonflies and damselflies of Massachusetts. Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, Westborough, MA. 197 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: June 7, 2011

Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2024. Online Conservation Guide for Enallagma pictum. Available from: Accessed June 21, 2024.