The New Mexico Dragonfly Notebook

Sympetrum vicinum 

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Sympetrum vicinum (Hagen)

     The continued warm temperatures in southeastern New Mexico through October 17, 1998,  have brought out some interesting dragonfly species.   One of which is the little Sympetrum vicinum (Hagen) found about the fresh water seeps and springs located on the west side of the middle tract of the Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

     This species, Sympetrum vicinum, is similar to Sympetrum occidentale fasciatum Walker,  but lacks the black markings along the lateral carina of the abdomen.   The thorax is also generally brown with bright red markings just above the leg bases.  The abdomen, as in occidentale fasciatum, is cherry red. The wings lack the broad amber flavescens which extends out to the nodus in occidentale. The flavescent color is restricted to the wing bases.

     The males remain in the immediate vicinity of the shallow drainage of the springs, while the females can be found resting on vegetation at some distance from the water.   Both males and females have a preference for resting on Four-wing Salt Bush Atriplex canescens and Jimmyweed Isocoma wrightii.

     One habitat requirement for vicinum is fresh water which restricts this species distribution on the refuge. It has not been found along the Spring River, Rio Hondo, or the Berrendo River in Chaves County.  The Lost River, which emerges on the refuge, is too saline and does not support the Cattails which are found in vicinum's habitat.  The fresh water springs support associated flora which require water of low salinity.  Among these are Common Cattail Typha latifolia and Narrow-leaved Cattail Typha augustifolia. Water Cress Matthiola incana also appears to be a habitat requirement for this dragonfly species in this area.   Associated aquatic invertebrates include Planaria Dugesia tigrina and the endangered Noel's Amphipod Gammarus desperatus. Also, green algae seems to be a requirement for both Noel's Amphipod and Sympetrum vicinum, that is, this dragonfly species is not found further down the spring drainage area when the associated flora and fauna are absent.

    Distribution of this dragon fly in New Mexico would now be Guadalupe, De Baca, and Chaves Counties. This species had not been previously reported in Chaves County.   All three of the counties are along the El Rio Pecos (River of Sin).   This species is most probably located along the fresh water seeps and springs which feed the Pecos and where its fresh water habitat requirements are met.

Robert Larsen, 1998

Link:  Photos and scans of Sympetrum Vicinum on Kathy Biggs' California Odonata page.

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This page created 11/1/1998
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