Azure Bluet / Agrion saupoudré
Adult size: 30-33 mm
Habitat/Status: Generally uncommon and local in the Canadian Maritimes, this species occurs primarily in fishless waters, including small, boggy ponds where it typically perches on water lilies; also found in temporary, recent ponds such as roadside ditches and gravel pit ponds; occasionally occurs in small streams. Azure Bluet male, MacLaren Pond, Fundy National Park, July 22nd, 2014
Typical flight period: In the Maritimes, this species flies from early July to early October (dates June 25th NS – October 12th (2013), NB).
ID hints: This is a smallish bluet with a mostly dark abdomen; in the male, in the lower abdomen beyond S3, only part of segment 7 and all of 8 and 9 are blue and the rest is black, giving this species a very dark, “blue-tipped” appearance. The female also sports a mostly black abdomen with a unique pattern of two pairs of blue spots on the distal end. The abdominal colourations in this species in both the male and the female are unique among our damselflies. Azure Bluet male, Porters Pond, Kouchibouguac National Park, August 15th, 2009
General Nature Notes, Quotes and Anecdotes: The Azure Bluet is one of a suite of Odonata found most frequently associated with fishless ponds. Along with the Boreal Bluet, the Vesper Bluet (Enallagma vesperum) and the Skimming Bluet (Enallagma geminatum), all of which occur in the Maritimes, this species was the subject of a seminal behavioural study on the differences between damselflies from fishless ponds (the Azure Bluet, Boreal Bluet and others) and damselflies and ponds having fish (the Vesper Bluet, the Skimming Bluet and others) by Mark McPeek in the late 1980s. His study, entitled “Behavioral Differences between Enallagma Species (Odonata) Influencing Differential Vulnerability to Predators” and published in the journal “Ecology” in 1990, showed that fishless pond species of damselflies such as the Azure Bluet feed more actively and are consequently better competitors in habitats devoid of fish. However, their inability to recognize fish as predators, combined with their tendency of being more active and thus more visible, made them much more vulnerable in ponds having Odonata-eating fish, especially when compared to species such as the Vesper Bluet and Skimming Bluet. These latter species both spent more time hiding in wait for their food to come to them and also recognized fish as predators and tended to freeze in their presence, making them less conspicuous and less likely to get eaten!