Setwings (three species)

Comparison (male & female)

Three species of mostly dark setwings reside in Arizona: The Black (Dythemis nigrescens), Swift (D. velox), and Checkered (D. fugax) Setwings. Of these, the Black Setwing has by far the widest distribution whereas the Checkered and especially Swift Setwings are geographically more restricted.

Male Comparison

To identify male setwings, focus on the body, eye and face, and wing colors:



  • Black Setwing: entirely blue-black. Note, however, that immature males have a strongly pale brown and black thoracic and abdominal pattern
  • Swift Setwing: mostly dark, but with conspicuous white spot on abdominal segment 7
  • Checkered Setwing: abdomen shows a conspicuous black and white pattern


Eyes and face:

  • Black Setwing: mostly dark with metallic purple frons (but note pale eyes and face, except the dark frons, of immature males)
  • Swift Setwing: dark face and dark red eyes
  • Checkered Setwing: bright red face and eyes



  • Black Setwing: clear
  • Swift Setwing: extensive dark tips
  • Checkered Setwing: wing basis has large, strongly patterned brown patch; no to small dark tips

Female Comparison

To identify mature female setwings focus on the overall body, eye, and face colors:



  • Black Setwing: color is variable, from dark brown with tan markings on thorax and abdomen to mostly pale brown
  • Swift Setwing: resembles male but pale abdominal markings more extensive
  • Checkered Setwing: strong thoracic and abdominal black and while pattern


Eyes and face:

  • Black Setwing: brown face and eyes
  • Swift Setwing: similar to male
  • Checkered Setwing: eyes reddish, pale face



  • Black Setwing: clear with dark tips (variable)
  • Swift Setwing: mostly clear with well-marked dark tips as in males
  • Checkered Setwing: as in males, with small dark tips