Illinois River Cruiser (Swift River Cruiser) Macromia illinoiensis

The Cruisers, family Macromiidae, are damn fast. And check out those stunning green eyes. There are four species of Macromia in Arkansas. I think it is a toss-up as to whether this species or the Royal River Cruiser is the most common. The other two are not easily found. This Illinois jet may be the fastest of the lot. They zip along the surfaces of creeks and ponds at impressive speeds. Tracking over racing oval stretches of thirty to fifty yards of water surface. They look black at high speeds but occasionally the light reflects on those green goggles. You can make out some yellow markings if you scan quickly or focus until you get a headache. Catching them in the net is no easy feat. And photographing them at rest may be virtually impossible. Though one can occasionally stumble upon one dangling vertically from a stem near creeks and bayous. They scare easily from their resting spots and then go madly off again at high speed.

The Illinois can be told by those two larger spots on the last segments of the abdomen. The Royal lacks these. (See Royal page.) The third species, the Allegheny River Cruiser, has the spots as well but one of them is reduced. I have never seen the Allegheny in Arkansas. Dunkle snuck over from Texas and found them. They may only occur in a few limited creek drainages. George Harp, Arkansas' resident dragon expert, has them only from Montgomery County

Gilded River Cruiser Macromia pacifica

The Gilded is much less common and more local than the Illinois. This cruiser prefers clearer water and is yellower than any other Arkansas cruiser. This is a female. The male has more of a clubbed terminus. And those are pinkish eggs dangling near the tip. Brilliant green eyes as with most cruisers.

Royal River Cruiser Macromia taeniolata

These guys are large, comparatively, among the Cruisers. And supposedly the abdomen looks less clubbed in this species but I'm not sure I can detect this in a flying Cruiser. I do think the Royals fly slower than the Illinois River Cruiser (but what doesn't?). The yellow spots are less prominent. Especially near the tail end where the Illinois appears to have two taillights. The Royal has only one prominent spot. I believe that on the biggest riverways that the Royal is more common than the others. On small, slow flowing creeks they both appear, sometimes together and sometimes in good numbers.

A perched male Royal again showing the dark terminal segments and thin overall silhouette. This is the characteristic "hang" angle. Also note the broken shoulder stripes.

And the classic resting position up in the shade when the males aren't crusiing raods and paths and power line cuts near waterways. From Bell on the butterfly count in 2017.