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Roseate Skimmer



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Orthemis ferruginea

Fabricius, 1775


Order Odonata
Suborder Anisoptera
Superfamily Libelluloidea
Family Libellulidae
Genus Orthemis
Species ferruginea (Fabricius, 1775) [Libellula]


Identification

This handsome and widespread species is found throughout all parts of the south-central United States. It is brown initially in both sexes with pale stripes on the thorax forming an irregular "HII" pattern. The abdomen is uniform brown in young individuals. Mature adults develop a pale bluish thorax and a bright pinkish or purple abdomen. The wings are clear with orangish veins. The lateral flanges of abdominal segment 8 in females are generally pale.

Size

Total length: 46-55 mm; abdomen: 33-39 mm; hindwing: 35-44 mm.

Similar Species

See discussion under the similar Orange-bellied Skimmer for additional characteristics and differences.

Habitat

Temporary and permanent ponds, lakes, ditches and slow streams.

Discussion

This is a widespread species that seems to invade new habitats and is capabale of readily expanding its range. It is found throughout the New World tropics, including the Bahamas, West Indies and Hawaii. It behaves similarly to many king skimmers (Libellula), foraging from the top of tall vegetation. It is an aggressive predator taking insects only slightly smaller than itself. Males will regularly and vigorously patrol territories averaging 10 m. Males use their abdomens to ward off intruding males by bending the tip downwards. They pursue females in flight, where mating takes place for an avera ge of 10 sec. Oviposition by females takes an average of 1-3 minutes and is done by flicking the eggs along with water droplets towards the shoreline. The male guards the female during this time, often hovering close to her and bending the abdomen down, almost at a right angle, when numerous competing males are present. Two emergence peaks have been reported in Louisiana; one in the spring and a second one in the late summer to early fall.

Distribution

Southern U.S., Mexico, West Indies and Central America south to Chile.