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Great Blue Skimmer



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Libellula vibrans

Fabricius, 1793


Order Odonata
Suborder Anisoptera
Superfamily Libelluloidea
Family Libellulidae
Genus Libellula
Species vibrans Fabricius, 1793 [Libellula]


Identification

This is the largest of our skimmers and it is found throughout the eastern portions of our region. Its face is white. The thorax is brown with a narrow white middorsal stripe and the sides are pale grayish-white with a dark stripe along the third lateral suture that is obsolete at its lower end. The wings are clear with a narrow dark stripe basally and a small spot at the nodus. The wingtips are dark. The femora are pale ove r their basal half with the remaining length, tibiae and tarsi black. The abdomen is yellow with a black middorsal stripe. The mature males develop a pruinose pale blue color first on the front of the thorax then on the abdomen. The yellow on the abdomen of mature females becomes brown. Segment 8 in females is broadly expanded laterally.

Size

Total length: 50-63 mm; abdomen: 37-43 mm; hindwing: 46-52 mm.

Similar Species

Slaty Skimmer (L. incesta ) is slightly smaller, has a dark face, and clear wings. Bar-winged Skimmer (L. axilena ) has white basally in the hindwing, pruinescence on the thorax, and the abdomen is paler. Yellow-sided Skimmer (L. flavida ) generally has amber along the front margin of the wings. Gray-waisted Skimmer (Cannaphila insularis ) has a pale face and the bases of the hindwing are distinctly narrowed.

Habitat

Swampy ponds, lakes and slow forest streams.

Discussion

This large handsome dragonfly is common around forest ponds and sloughs during the summer, where it perches for lengthy periods. It is remarkably approachable at its shady perches. Mating occurs while pairs are perched and generally takes less than 30 sec. Females then lay eggs by tossing them along with water onto the shoreline. Males may mate before they are fully pruinose.

Distribution

Eastern U.S.