The Dragonflies and Damselflies of North Carolina
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North Carolina's 189 Odonate species

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Sort Species by: Family   Scientific Name       [ Undocumented ]
Related Species in COENAGRIONIDAE: Number of records for 2024-00-00 = 21

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Variable Dancer (Argia fumipennis) by Rob Van Epps (left) - Mark Shields (right)
Compare with: Blue-tipped Dancer  
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Note: these identification tips apply specifically to mature males; features may differ in immature males and in females.

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Click on county for list of all its records for Variable Dancer
Flight Charts
Distribution Essentially statewide, with the exception being the northeastern Coastal Plain, where it may be legitimately absent from several counties. Two subspecies are represented in North Carolina: Argia fumipennis fumipennis in the Coastal Plain and far eastern Piedmont, and A. f. violacea in the mountains and most of the Piedmont.
Abundance Common to locally abundant across the state (except rare to absent in the extreme northeast); can often be the most numerous damselfly at a site. Most numerous in the Sandhills, where two of our three largest one-day totals have been made.
Flight The flight occurs nearly throughout the odonate flight season, as the Coastal Plain records fall from early April to mid-November. The Piedmont flight occurs between late April and early November, while the mountain flight starts slightly later -- early May to early November.
Habitat Extremely widespread in habitats. Around small streams, ditches, pond margins, and other slow waters; usually where there are grasses and sedges. May often feed well away from water.
Behavior Arguably the most conspicuous of the dancers, the males are easily seen perched on rocks or other vegetation in or close to a stream. They can be found on dirt tracks or roads away from water.
Comments As the name implies, this species has highly variable color patterns, though there is generally some lavender coloration on the thorax. It is another of our more familiar damselflies in the state, being common to very common in each of the three provinces and recorded from every county except for four in the northeastern corner of the state. There are two subspecies in the state -- the dark-winged nominate one (Argia fumipennis fumipennis) is found over most of the Coastal Plain, whereas the clear-winged one (A. fumipennis violacea) occurs over the remainder of the state.
State Rank S5
State Status
Global Rank G5
Federal Status
Other Name
Species account update: LeGrand on 2023-01-18 10:57:21

Photo Gallery for Variable Dancer   48 photos are available.
Only the most recent 30 are shown.
Other NC Galleries:    Jeff Pippen    Will Cook    Ted Wilcox
Photo 1 by: Amy Padgett

Comment: Bladen, 2024-05-23, Bay Tree Natural Area, Harrells, NC - 1:52P - in sedges at lake edge
Photo 2 by: p dixon

Comment: Madison, 2021-05-30, Hot Springs area, teneral male
Photo 3 by: B. Bockhahn

Comment: Cumberland, 2021-04-21,
Photo 4 by: Charles H Williams

Comment: Guilford, 2020-07-31, 2:12 PM beside lake at Country Park 36.124674, -79.835216 - 10:52 am beside Palmetto trail 36.144404, -79.856148
Photo 5 by: p dixon

Comment: Madison, 2020-07-01, Hot Springs area
Photo 6 by: Ken Kneidel

Comment: Burke; P, 2020-06-26, McGaillard Falls Park
Photo 7 by: Doug Allen

Comment: Polk; P, 2020-06-14, Caroland Farms - NC section; private ponds
Photo 8 by: Mike Turner

Comment: Cumberland, 2020-05-18, retention pond @ 35.0858, -78.9181
Photo 9 by: Aaron Edmonds

Comment: Harnett; C, 2019-05-11, Campbell University- Marshbanks Property
Photo 10 by: Ken Kneidel

Comment: Burke; P, 2018-08-17, McGaillard Falls Park
Photo 11 by: Mike Turner

Comment: Forsyth, 2018-07-01, Winston Lake - adult males
Photo 12 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Transylvania, 2018-06-27, Gorges State Park (GORG) - at Raymond Fisher Pond
Photo 13 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Jackson, 2018-06-25, Pond beside Breedlove Road, 5 km northeast of Cashiers
Photo 14 by: Ken Kneidel

Comment: Yancey, 2018-06-16
Photo 15 by: Aaron Edmonds

Comment: Harnett; C, 2018-05-15, Flat Branch
Photo 16 by: Guy McGrane

Comment: Watauga, 2017-08-05, Brookshire Park - pair in tandem, and separate male photographed.
Photo 17 by: Vin Stanton

Comment: Buncombe, 2017-07-25, Ledges River Park, French Broad River - Male
Photo 18 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Alleghany, 2017-06-28, Little Glade Mill Pond, Blue Ridge Parkway
Photo 19 by: Rob Van Epps

Comment: Mecklenburg, 2017-06-13 - Roosevelt Wilson Park; Davidson
Photo 20 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Rutherford; P, 2017-06-02, Morse Park, Lake Lure
Photo 21 by: Mark Shields, Hunter Phillips

Comment: Scotland, 2017-05-15, Scotland Lake and in-flowing creek, Sandhills Game Land
Photo 22 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Onslow, 2016-08-30, retention ponds, Coastal Carolina Community College, Jacksonville
Photo 23 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Bladen, 2016-06-10, Jones Lake
Photo 24 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Onslow, 2015-07-13, Coastal Carolina Community College, Jacksonville - Female. In grass along edge of woods; male seen but not photographed
Photo 25 by: Curtis Smalling

Comment: Avery, 2015-07-03, Banner Elk Greenway Trail
Photo 26 by: Curtis Smalling

Comment: Wilkes; M, 2015-06-16, WRC fishing put-in on Triplett Rd.
Photo 27 by: Curtis Smalling

Comment: McDowell; P, 2015-06-04, US Hwy 221 Baseball field park on Linville River
Photo 28 by: Jason Love

Comment: Macon, 2015-05-25, Found in backyard; 2450 Middle Creek Rd., Otto - Female, netted, photo, released
Photo 29 by: Joe Lafferty

Comment: Brunswick, 2014-10-07, Sea Trail, Sunset Beach
Photo 30 by: Doug Johnston, Vin Stanton

Comment: Graham, 2013-07-16, Tulula Bog - Male & Female