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Order Odonata: the dragonflies and damselflies — Examples

Dragonflies
Damselflies


Dragonflies
Families represented below:
Aeshnidae (the darners)
Gomphidae (the clubtails)
Libellulidae (the skimmers)
Corduliidae (the emeralds)

Aeshnidae (the darners)

Blue-eyed darner (<i>Rhionaeschna multicolor</i>)
Blue-Eyed Darner, Rhionaeschna multicolor, family Aeshnidae (the darners).
Photographed by: Thomas Langhans. Identified by KnowYourInsects.org. See his full-size image here. Location: San Bruno, San Mateo County, California, USA. Date: 20 July, 2016.
Canada darner female (<i>Aeshna canadensis</i>)
Canada Darner, Aeshna canadensis, female, family Aeshnidae (the darners).
Photographed by: Maryle Barbé. Location: Spring Lakes Park, Petoskey, Emmet County, Michigan, USA. Date: 9 July, 2013. Maryle says, “This is a beauty.”
Shadow Darner (<i>Aeshna umbrosa</i>)
Shadow Darner, Aeshna umbrosa, family Aeshnidae (the darners).
Photographed and identified to order by: Sarah McKay-Mertz. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Chicago, Illinois, USA. Date: 25 April, 2017. Sarah says, “City bugs get a bad rap, so I thought you might like seeing this beauty I saw laying stunned in the grass about 1/2 block from the Willis Tower. He must have been at least 6 inches long — and thick for a dragonfly. Hopefully he will make it!”
Southern Hawker (<i>Aeshna cyanea</i>)
Southern Hawker, also called a Blue Hawker, female, Aeshna cyanea, family Aeshnidae (the darners).
□ This female has bright green markings all the way to the end of its abdomen. Males develop a blue markings on the final three abdominal segments.
Photographed and identified by: Bryan Wenham-Baker. Location: South Devon, England, UK. Date: 6 August, 2017.
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Libellulidae (the skimmers)

Neon skimmer (<i>Libellula croceipennis</i>)
Neon Skimmer, Libellula croceipennis, male, family Libellulidae (the skimmers).
□ The color of the male’s abdomen is stunning! The female lacks that bright neon coloration, and is instead a lovely creamy brown.
Photographed and identified to family by: Brian Hendry. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org Location: Edmond, Oklahoma, USA. Date: 4 June, 2017.
Widow skimmer (<i>Libellula luctosa</i>)
Widow Skimmer, Libellula luctosa, male, family Libellulidae (the skimmers).
□ The male has milky white patches on its wings; the female does not.
Photographed by: Maryle Barbé. Location: Spring Lakes Park, Petoskey, Emmet County, Michigan, USA. Date: 9 July, 2013.
Widow skimmer (<i>Libellula luctosa</i>)
Widow Skimmer, Libellula luctosa, female, family Libellulidae (the skimmers).
□ Compare this to the previous photo, which is the male. There are several differences, including the striping on the abdomen — the female has it, while the male does not.
Photographed by: Pauline Picotte. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Ontario, Canada. Date: 10 July, 2017.
Twelve-spotted skimmer (<i>Libellula pulchella</i>)
Twelve-Spotted Skimmer, Libellula pulchella, male, family Libellulidae (the skimmers).
□ This dragonfly gets its name from the 12 spots on its wings: three black spots on each of the four wings.
Photographed by: Maryle Barbé. Location: Spring Lakes Park, Petoskey, Emmet County, Michigan, USA. Date: 9 July, 2013.
Twelve-spotted skimmer (<i>Libellula pulchella</i>)
Twelve-Spotted Skimmer, Libellula pulchella, female, family Libellulidae (the skimmers).
□ Compare this female Twelve-Spotted Skimmer to the male in the previous photo. The male has noticeable white smudges on the wings; the female does not.
Photographed and identified by: Jeff Goff. Location: Limestone (in the central Upper Peninsula), Michigan, USA. Date: 8 August, 2016. Jeff says he took this photo in a coneflower meadow. Beautiful with those dewdrops!
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Calico Pennant female (Celithemis elisa)
Calico Pennant, female, Celithemis elisa, family Libellulidae (the skimmers).
□ The female differs from the male in that she has yellow wing veins compared to the male’s pink wing veins; and the spots on her abdomen are yellow, compared to the red on the male’s abdomen.
Photographed and identified by: Leslie Mertz. Location: Kalkaska County, Michigan, USA. Date: 6 July, 2013.
Halloween pennant female (<i>Celithemis eponina</i>)
Halloween Pennant, Celithemis eponina, family Libellulidae (the skimmers).
□ The female (and young male) has a yellow stripe running down the abdomen, as well as yellow markings on the face. As the male ages, the yellow is replaced by a red hue.
Photographed and identified by: Kelly McKinne (@gonzonaturalist). Location: Perrysburg, Ohio, USA. Date: 19 June, 2015.
Halloween Pennant (Celithemis eponina)
Halloween Pennant, Celithemis eponina, family Libellulidae (the skimmers).
Photographed by: Sheldon L. Boyd. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: The Villages, Florida, USA. Date: 23 June, 2013.
Wandering glider (<i>Pentala flavescens</i>)
Wandering Glider (also known as a Globe Skimmer), Pentala flavescens, family Libellulidae (the skimmers).
□ See the next photo for a better look at the wing venation (veins) and the stigma, the colored "windowpane" on the ends of the wings.
Photographed by: Thomas Langhans. Identified by KnowYourInsects.org. See his full-size image here. Location: San Bruno, San Mateo County, California, USA. Date: 13 July, 2016.
Wandering glider (<i>Pentala flavescens</i>)
Wandering Glider (also known as a Globe Skimmer), Pentala flavescens, family Libellulidae (the skimmers).
Photographed by: Thomas Langhans. Identified by KnowYourInsects.org. See his full-size image here.. Location: San Bruno, San Mateo County, California, USA. Date: 13 July, 2016.
Wandering glider (<i>Pentala flavescens</i>)
Wandering Glider (also known as a Globe Skimmer), Pentala flavescens, family Libellulidae (the skimmers).
Photographed and identified by: Sheldon L. Boyd. Location: The Villages, Florida, USA. Date: 8 December, 2017.
Wandering glider (<i>Pentala flavescens</i>)
Wandering Glider (also known as a Globe Skimmer), mating pair, Pentala flavescens, family Libellulidae (the skimmers).
□ This wonderful photo shows a mating pair of Wandering Gliders in flight. The male is in front and is clasping the female just behind her head.
Photographed and identified by: Sheldon L. Boyd. Location: The Villages, Florida, USA. Date: 21 August, 2017. Sheldon says, “She dips down to deposit eggs in the water thus causing ripples in the water they then fly off together.
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Blue Dasher (<i>Pachydiplax longipennis</i>)
Blue Dasher, male, Pachydiplax longipennis, family Libellulidae (the skimmers).
□ As males mature, the abdomen takes on more and more of the chalky blue color. Look closely to see the male’s claspers at the end of the abdomen. He uses these to grasp the female behind the head during mating.
Photographed and identified to family by: Brian Hendry. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org Location: Edmond, Oklahoma, USA. Date: 7 June, 2017.
Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis)
Blue Dasher, male, Pachydiplax longipennis, family Libellulidae (the skimmers).
□ This great view showcases the gorgeous tiger-like patterning on the thorax. In the western United States, the male has a chalky blue thorax that matches the abdomen’s color. Blue dashers are typically 1.25–1.5 inches long.
Photographed and identified to family by: Brian Hendry. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org Location: Edmond, Oklahoma, USA. Date: 7 June, 2017.
Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis)
Blue Dasher, female, Pachydiplax longipennis, family Libellulidae (the skimmers).
□ The female has the tiger striping on the thorax, but she has yellow patterning on her abdomen, where the male’s abdomen (previous photos) is a chalky blue with a dark tip.
Photographed and identified to family by: Brian Hendry. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org Location: Edmond, Oklahoma, USA. Date: 7 June, 2017.
Blue dasher (<i>Pachydiplax longipennis</i>)
Blue Dasher, female or immature male, Pachydiplax longipennis, family Libellulidae (the skimmers).
□ Immature males share the females’s patterning on the abdomen. As they age, the patterning is replaced by chalky blue — the last to turn blue are the abdominal segments closest to the thorax. To distinguish a female from an immature male, look for the claspers (see previous photo showing the male’s claspers).
Photographed and identified to order by: Thomas Langhans. Identified by KnowYourInsects.org. See his full-size image here.. Location: San Bruno, San Mateo County, California, USA. Date: 20 July, 2016.
Blue dasher (<i>Pachydiplax longipennis</i>)
Blue Dasher, male, Pachydiplax longipennis, family Libellulidae (the skimmers).
Photographed and identified by: Sheldon L. Boyd. Location: The Villages, Florida, USA. Date: 20 June, 2017.
Black saddlebags dragonfly
Black Saddlebags Dragonfly (Tramea lacerata), family Libellulidae (the skimmers). Those big, black splotches on the otherwise-clear hind wings are so distinctive.
Photographed and identified by: L. Craig. L. Location: Downtown Detroit, Michigan, USA. Date: 30 September, 2016. Craig says, “It’s such an interesting yet intimidating looking insect (especially those wings)!!.”
Eastern pondhawk
Eastern Pondhawk, Erythemis simplicicollis, family Libellulidae (the skimmers).
Photographed and identified by: Kelly McKinne (@gonzonaturalist). Location: Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, Ohio, USA. Date: 29 August, 2015. Kelly says, “Eastern Pondhawk being cooperative for a picture today. Great dragonfly.”
Eastern pondhawk
Eastern Pondhawk, female, Erythemis simplicicollis, family Libellulidae (the skimmers).
□ The female Eastern Pondhawk (pictured here) is bright green with black markings on the abdomen, while the male of this species is a pale turquoise to baby blue without the black markings on the abdomen.
Photographed by: Sheldon L. Boyd. Identified by: Audrey Maran. Thank you, Audrey! Location: Hopewell, Virginia, USA. Date: 24 July, 2014.
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Chalk-fronted corporal
Chalk-Fronted Corporal, Ladona julia, family Libellulidae (the skimmers).
Photographed and identified by: Leslie Mertz. Location: Michaywé, Ostego County, Michigan, USA. Date: 18 June, 2015.
Chalk-fronted corporal
Chalk-Fronted Corporal, Ladona julia, family Libellulidae (the skimmers).
Photographed and identified by: Leslie Mertz. Location: Michaywé, Ostego County, Michigan, USA. Date: 18 June, 2015.
Common Whitetail (<i>Plathemis lydia</i>)
Common Whitetail, male, Plathemis lydia, family Libellulidae (the skimmers).
□ The mature male (shown here) has a white abdomen, a wide black splotch on each wing, and a narrower strip of black on the leading edge of each wing. An immature male has the same wings, but lacks the white abdomen. The female has a brown abdomen with white or yellowish-white spots on each side, and each of her wings has three dark patches.
Photographed by: Hector Rodriguez. Identified by KnowYourInsects.org. See his full-size image here. Location: Woodstock, Illinois, USA. Date: 7 June, 2017. Hector says, “It’s interesting the difference between the male and the female.”
Red-veined darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii)
Red-Veined Darter, young male, Sympetrum fonscolombii, family Libellulidae (the skimmers).
□ The male becomes redder as it ages. The female is mainly green with just the faintest hints of orange or red.
Photographed by Jean-Louis Metzger. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Marquenterre, France. Date: 5 August, 2016.
Red-veined darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii)
Red-Veined Darter, male, Sympetrum fonscolombii, family Libellulidae (the skimmers).
□ The red veins are evident on this male Red-Veined Darter.
Photographed by Jean-Louis Metzger. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Bilbao, Spain. Date: 3 May, 2008.
Sympetrum rubicundulum
Ruby Meadowhawk, Sympetrum rubicundulum, family Libellulidae (the skimmers).
□ Although it isn’t visible in this photo, the Ruby Meadowhawk has a tan face. The Cherry-Faced Meadowhawk has a reddish face.
Photographed and identified by: Leslie Mertz. Location: Michaywé, Ostego County, Michigan, USA. Date: July, 2016.
Cardinal meadowhawk (Sympetrum illotum)
Cardinal Meadowhawk, male, Sympetrum illotum, family Libellulidae (the skimmers).
□ The red body of this Cardinal Meadowhawk is set off by the two white teardrops on each side of its thorax.
Photographed and identified by: Thomas Langhans. See his full-size image here. Location: San Bruno, San Mateo County, California, USA. Date: 29 August, 2017.
Cardinal meadowhawk (Sympetrum illotum)
Cardinal Meadowhawk, male, Sympetrum illotum, family Libellulidae (the skimmers).
□ The male Cardinal Meadowhawk is almost all red, including his face. He also has orange-red wing veins near the body on all four wings. The female is more brown than red, but she still has hints of orange-red in her wing veins, as well as the white teardrops described in the previous photo.
Photographed and identified by: Thomas Langhans. See his full-size image here. Location: San Bruno, San Mateo County, California, USA. Date: 29 August, 2017.
Sympetrum corruptum
Variegated Meadowhawk, Sympetrum corruptum, family Libellulidae (the skimmers).
Photographed and identified by: Thomas Langhans. See his full-size image here. Location: San Bruno, San Mateo County, California, USA. Date: 23 November, 2016. Thomas says, “I could not believe it when I saw it flying around today; haven’t seen a dragonfly for a long time now! ... I never imagined that dragonflies would have such color until I starting taking pictures of them.”
Sympetrum spp.
White-Faced Meadowhawk, male, Sympetrum obtrusum, family Libellulidae (the skimmers).
□ There are several species of similar-looking meadowhawks. The color of the face (technically the frons and clypeus) is key to identifying this White-Faced Meadowhawk.
Photographed and identified by: Neil Boyle. Location: Nelson, British Columbia, Canada. Date: 19 July, 2017.
White-Faced Meadowhawk (Sympetrum obtrusum)
White-Faced Meadowhawk, Sympetrum obtrusum, family Libellulidae (the skimmers).
□ This is either a female or immature male, both of which are yellowish-brown. Adult males are red (see previous photo).
Photographed and identified by: Leslie Mertz. Location: Michaywé, Ostego County, Michigan, USA. Date: July, 2015.
Dragonfly nymph
Dragonfly nymph, unknown species.
Photographed by: Gary Silberstein. Location: Walloon Lake, Charlevoix/Emmet Counties, Michigan, USA. Date: 19 June, 2015.

Corduliidae (the emeralds)
Gomphidae (the clubtails)

Prince Baskettail (<i>Epitheca princeps</i>)
Prince Baskettail, Epitheca princeps, family Corduliidae (the emeralds).
□ The “emeralds” family of dragonflies are so called for the emerald-green eyes in mature adults, just as shown in this great shot of a Prince Baskettail. Photographed by and identified to order by: Brian Hendry. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Brian Hendry. Location: Edmond, Oklahoma, USA. Date: 12 July, 2017.
Add your photo here! Small Pincertail (Onychogomphus forcipatus)
Small Pincertail, also known as Green-Eyed Hook-Tailed Dragonfly, male, Onychogomphus forcipatus, family Gomphidae (the clubtails).
□ The dragonflies in this family are called clubtails because the males in many species have a widening at the end of the abdomen that is somewhat club-shaped. Females often do not have a noticeable widening, and the males of some species may not have it either.
Photographed by: Jean-Louis Metzger. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Gorges de l´Ardèche, Massif Central, France. Date: 22 June, 2015. Jean-Louis says, “This very yellow dragonfly caught my attention.”


Damselflies
Families represented below:
Calopterygidae (the broad-winged damselflies)
Coenagrionidae (the narrow-winged damselflies)
Lestidae (the spreadwings)

Calopterygidae (the broad-winged damselflies)

Ebony jewelwing (<i>Calopteryx maculata</i>)
Ebony Jewelwing, Calopteryx maculata, family Calopterygidae (the broad-winged damselflies).
Photographed by: Maryle Barbé. Location: On Boyne River, Boyne City, Charlevoix County, Michigan, USA. Date: 9 July, 2013.
Ebony jewelwing (<i>Calopteryx maculata</i>)
Ebony Jewelwing, Calopteryx maculata, family Calopterygidae (the broad-winged damselflies).
Photographed and identified by: Leslie Mertz. Location: Michaywé, Otsego County, Michigan, USA. Date: 16 June, 2015.
Ebony jewelwing (<i>Calopteryx maculata</i>)
Ebony Jewelwing, Calopteryx maculata, family Calopterygidae (the broad-winged damselflies).
Photographed and identified by: Leslie Mertz. Location: Michaywé, Otsego County, Michigan, USA. Date: 16 June, 2015.

Coenagrionidae (the narrow-winged damselflies)

Bluet damselfly (<i>Enallagma</i> spp)
Bluet Damselfly, Enallagma spp., family Coenagrionidae (the narrow-winged damselflies).
Photographed and identified by: Keith McConnelly. Location: Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County, Michigan, USA. Date: 10 June, 2016. Keith says it was “on the edge of a manmade pond.”
Damselflies, mating
A mating pair of damselflies, Enallagma spp., family Coenagrionidae (the narrow-winged damselflies).
□ This photos shows the amazing color variation between the males and females of many species of damselflies. Here, the male is the brighter color (the blue).
Photographed and identified to genus by: Brian Hendry. Location: Edmond, Oklahoma, USA. Date: 7 June, 2017.
Golden Dartlet (<i>Ischnura aurora</i>)
Golden Dartlet, Ischnura aurora, family Coenagrionidae (the narrow-winged damselflies). This damselfly sometimes goes by the common name of Aurora Bluetail, which refers to the blue tip of the abdomen on the male. This is a male.
Photographed by: Ajay Antony. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, India. Date: 11 May, 2017. Ajay says, “Since I have completed my studies, I have been going for photoshoots regularly.” Congratulations, Ajay!
Sooty Dancer (Argia lugens)
Damselfly, possibly Sooty Dancer, Argia lugens, family Coenagrionidae (the narrow-winged damselflies).
Photographed and identified to family by: Brian Hendry. Identified tentatively to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Edmond, Oklahoma, USA. Date: 7 June, 2017.
Bluet (<i>Enallagma civile</i>)
Bluet Damselfly, Enallagma civile, family Coenagrionidae (the narrow-winged damselflies).
Photographed and identified by: Leslie Mertz. Location: Michaywé, Otsego County, Michigan, USA. Date: 16 June, 2015.
Bluet (<i>Enallagma civile</i>)
Bluet Damselfly, Enallagma civile, family Coenagrionidae (the narrow-winged damselflies).
Photographed and identified by: Leslie Mertz. Location: Michaywé, Otsego County, Michigan, USA. Date: 16 June, 2015.
Argia vivida
Vivid Dancer, female, Argia vivida, family Libellulidae (the skimmers).
□ The brown cast along the top of the abdomen and on the thorax of this gray Vivid Dancer damselfly identifies it as a female. Not all females have the brown cast, however: Some have all-gray background coloration, and although rarer, some females have the mature male’s blue coloration (as seen in the next photo).
Photographed by: Thomas Langhans. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. See his full-size image here. Location: San Bruno, San Mateo County, California, USA. Date: 20 June, 2017.
Argia vivida
Vivid Dancer, male, Argia vivida, family Libellulidae (the skimmers).
□ Compare this to the female in the previous photo. Besides the difference in background color (blue vs. gray/brown), the black pattern on the abdomen is different. On the male, it is more striped, but on the female it has more noticeable variation. The thorax pattern, however, is similar on both.
Photographed by: Thomas Langhans. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. See his full-size image here. Location: San Bruno, San Mateo County, California, USA. Date: 20 June, 2017.
Argia vivida
Vivid Dancer, female or juvenile male, Argia vivida, family Libellulidae (the skimmers).
□ In this cool photo, this Vivid Danver damselfly looks like it is closely watching the photographer. The all-gray background coloration makes this specimen either a female or an immature male. See the mature male in the previous photo.
Photographed by: Thomas Langhans. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. See his full-size image here. Location: San Bruno, San Mateo County, California, USA. Date: 20 June, 2017.
Damselfly
Common Blue Damselfly, Enallagma cyathigerum, family Coenagrionidae (the narrow-winged damselflies).
□ This is quite a feat: remaining connected while hovering! And it is also quite a feat to capture this with a camera — nice shot, Jean-Louis!
Photographed and identified by: Jean-Louis Metzger. Location: Spalding, Norfolk, UK. Date: 16 July, 2015. Jean-Louis says, “These two damselflies were hovering 1 cm or so above the bank of a canal in Spalding, Norfolk, while mating, keeping their exact mutual positions for 2 or 3 minutes, giving me time to get a number of quite sharp pictures.”
Damselfly
Damselfly, juvenile female, genus Enallagma, family Coenagrionidae (the narrow-winged damselflies).
□ Entomologist Rosser Garrison provided the identification, and suggested that it is a juvenile female, probably either the Common Blue Damselfly (Enallgma annexum, sometimes still known by the older scientific name of Enallgma cyathigerum) or Tule Bluet (Enallagma carunculatum), which are common in the region where this photo was taken. Dr. Garrison also noted that there is an outside chance it could be the Familiar Bluet (Enallgma civile). Juveniles can be very tricky! Photographed by: Thomas Langhans. Identified by: Rosser Garrison. Thank you, Dr. Garrison! See Thomas’s full-size images here and here. Location: San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 31 October, 2017. Dr. Rosser says, “A molecular study published some years ago split our North American populations of E. cyathigerum off from the European ones, and (many) odonatologists in this country now use the name Enallagma annexum (Hagen), and have restricted the older name E. cyathigerum to European populations.”
Damselfly
Damselfly, family Coenagrionidae (the narrow-winged damselflies).
Photographed and identified to family by: Brian Hendry. Location: Edmond, Oklahoma, USA. Date: 7 July, 2017.
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Lestidae (the spreadwings)

California Spreadwing (<i>Archilestes californica</i> spp)
California Spreadwing, male, Archilestes californica, family Lestidae (the spreadwings).
Photographed by: Thomas Langhans. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. See his full-size image here. Location: city of San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California. Date: 20 June, 2017.
California Spreadwing (<i>Archilestes californica</i> spp)
California Spreadwing, male, Archilestes californica, family Lestidae (the spreadwings).
□ This is a closeup of the thorax.
Photographed by: Thomas Langhans. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. See his full-size image here. Location: city of San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California. Date: 20 June, 2017.
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Unless noted otherwise, photographs on this website are the property of the photographers and may not be reused without written permission from the photographers. To obtain permission, email the photographers here. High-resolution versions of the photographs are available.

Photos at the top of this website are (from left to right): potato beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata) — photo credit: Scott Bauer, U.S. Department of Agriculture; ebony jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata)— photo credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; sweat bee (Agapostemon splendens) — photo credit: Natalie Allen and Stephanie Kolski, U.S. Geological Survey; preying mantis, monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus), hellgrammite (aka toe biter) larva and eyed click beetle (Alaus oculatus) — photo credit: Leslie Mertz; Halloween pennant (Celithemis eponina) — photo credit: Kay Meng, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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