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Bar-winged Skimmer

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Libellula axilena

Westwood, 1837

Order Odonata
Suborder Anisoptera
Superfamily Libelluloidea
Family Libellulidae
Genus Libellula
Species axilena Westwood, 1837 [Libellula]
Syn Libellula leda Say, 1839


This is a large species similar to Slaty (L. incesta ) and Great Blue (L. vibrans ) Skimmers. It has a pale face that darkens with age to black with a metallic purple luster dorsally. The thorax is brown and yellow in females and young males. Mature males become dark, with a pale gray pruinescece starting at the front of the thorax, between the wings and progressing posteriorly. The wings are generally clear with a touch of white pruinosity basally in the hindwings and a dark bar on the anterior edge in the basal fifth of all wings. There is also a black bar between the nodus and pterostigma and the tips of each wing are black.


Total length: 50-62 mm; abdomen: 37-42 mm; hindwing: 41-49 mm.

Similar Species

Females and young males are most similar to Slaty and Great Blue Skimmers, but the darker face with contrasting pale lateral borders will distinguish them. These species also lack a black bar between the nodus and pterostigma. Slaty Skimmer has clear wings or if black streaks are present they are not as extensive, and Great Blue Skimmer has a white face. Other similar king skimmers (Libellula ) lack the white pruinosity at the base of the hindwing.


Forest ponds, pools and ditches.


This species has been found in several Louisiana Parishes and recently in southeast Texas which is the westernmost locality for this species. The reproductive behavior of this species is similar to that of Slaty Skimmer. Pairs mate while perched on stems or vegetation and females lay eggs guarded, but unaccompanied by the male.


Eastern U.S. from New York to Texas.