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Comanche Skimmer



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Libellula comanche

Calvert, 1907


Order Odonata
Suborder Anisoptera
Superfamily Libelluloidea
Family Libellulidae
Genus Libellula
Species comanche Calvert, 1907 [Libellula]
Syn Libellula flavida Hagen, 1861


Identification

This is a handsome southwestern species commonly found from the Texas Hill Country westward. It is one of two skimmers in the region with a distinctly bicolored pterostigma, half white-half brown. It has a white face with a dark stripe across the labrum. The thorax is brown in front, divided by a broad pale middorsal stripe. The sides are pale or cream colored with a distinct brown stripe on the third lateral suture connected by a line above and below that extends to the front of the thorax. The line below diverges to cover the spiracle and encompass a pale s pot below it. The wings are clear with at most a yellowish patch of color along the front margin and brown at the extreme wing tips. The pterostigmata are pale yellow-white proximally and black in their distal half. The legs are black. The abdomen is broad, never narrowed basally, but gradually tapers rearward. It is brownish with darker middorsal and lateral stripes. The thorax and abdomen in mature males become covered with dark blue pruinescence, so that only the epiproct remains pale.

Size

Total length: 45-57 mm; abdomen: 30-36 mm; hindwing: 35-46 mm.

Similar Species

The only other dragonfly with a bicolored pterostigma is Spangled Skimmer (L. cyanea ) which is smaller and has a black face. It is found in the eastern part of the region, though their ranges do narrowly overlap. Yellow-sided Skimmer (L. flavida ) is also similar but it has a dark face and lacks the bicolored pterostigma.

Habitat

Ponds, lakes and sluggish streams.

Discussion

This species is an active flier around its usual weedy pond and lake haunts. It perches atop grasses, bent stems and other vegetation near or overhanging the water. It is replaced in the southeastern United States by the similar Spangled Skimmer.

Distribution

Western U.S. from California and Montana to Texas and northern Mexico.