Two large pink/purple skimmers have been recorded in Arizona: one (Roseate Skimmer) is common and the other (Carmine Skimmer, Orthemis discolor) is a rare vagrant. Both species are of same sizes and behave similarly. In northern Mexico they are often seen together and occur in a wide variety of habitats. The distribution of the Carmine Skimmer in Texas is increasing (Paulson 2009) and in the future this species may also be found with increasing frequency in Arizona.
Two species of gliders (Pantala sp.) are commonly found in Arizona: the Spot-winged Glider and the Wandering Glider. The two species are of similar sizes and spend much time on the wing. They perch vertically and by hanging up in bushes, etc (see pictures). Within each species, males and females look very similar. To separate the two species, focus on the overall color and wing pattern.
The Springwater Dancer in Arizona has a wide distribution and has been recorded in most counties. It resembles two species - the Apache and Spine-tipped Dancers - with a more restricted distribution and with which it can be found at a same location, especially in the South half of the state. Separating mature males of the three species in the field requires examination of the thorax and abdomen.
Two small (average size: 24 mm) Forktail species (Ischnura sp.) commonly occur in many regions of Arizona: theCitrine and the Mexican Forktails. Both species frequently occur at the same time and location.
Mature males of the two species are easily differentiated based on color (see pictures), but separating female can be more difficult.
Four rather similar dancer (Argia sp.) species that are found in Arizona are the Dusky, Sooty, Tezpi, and TontoDancers. The Tezpi Dancer is confined to the southeast portion of the state, but the other three species are more widespread, can be found at a same location, and can be common. To separate mature males of the four species, focus on the size, wing and eye color, thorax color pattern, and abdomen color. In the hand, study the appendages, the shape of which is species-specific.
Two widespread species of forktails in Arizona are the Desert Forktail and the Rambur’s Forktail. Both species are often encountered at a same location. To separate males of the two species, focus on the thoracic stripes and the shape of the abdominal black stripes.
In the hand, the shape of male appendages is characteristic of each species. See photos at the end of each species’ photo page.
The Arizona species that most resembles the Lavender Dancer is the Variable Dancer. Both species can occur at a same location. The best way to differentiate males of these species in the field is by examination of the abdomen tip. Additional differences are noted by examining the eyes and thorax.
The Aztec Dancer is closely related to the California Dancer. The two species in Arizona are often found at the same locations and they behave similarly.
The Aztec and California Dancers often, but not always have a forked black humeral stripe. To differentiate the two species, examine the black marks on abdominal segment 2 (S2) and, in males in the hand, the tip of the abdomen. See pictures of each species for examples.