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Neon Skimmer



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Libellula croceipennis

Selys, 1869


Order Odonata
Suborder Anisoptera
Superfamily Libelluloidea
Family Libellulidae
Genus Libellula
Species croceipennis Selys, 1869 [Libellula]
Syn Belonia uniformis Kirby, 1889
Syn Libellula saturata aliasignata Muttkowski,


Identification

This is a brilliant bright red, robust species. Its face, front of the thorax and entire abdomen including caudal appendages are all brilliant red in mature individuals. The sides of the thorax are reddish-brown and unmarked. The wings have a diffuse amber-yellow area basally that extends out to the triangle where it narrows towards the costal margin, terminating near the nodus. The pterostigma are brown and generally longer (6 mm ) than in Flame Skimmer (L. saturata ) (less than 5 mm). Females may have clear wings. The legs are brown and armed with black spines. Abdominal segment 8 in females is broadly expanded laterally. The thorax and abdomen in young individuals are reddish-brown with a pale yellowish middorsal stripe.

Size

Total length: 54-59 mm; abdomen: 32-39 mm; hindwing: 35-47 mm.

Similar Species

The amber color in the wings of Flame Skimmer (L. saturata ) is more extensive extending beyond the nodus and there is a darker band basally in the wing. Needham's (L. needhami ) and Golden-winged (L. auripennis ) Skimmer both have a black middorsal stripe down the abdomen. The Mayan Setwing (Dythemis maya ) has a much more slender thorax and abdomen.

Habitat

Ponds, lakes and sluggish streams.

Discussion

This is one of the most noticeable visitors to lakes and ponds in central Texas. Its bright red color and erratic movements rarely let it go unnoticed. Males may be seen perched on top of tall grasses and weeds, but when females are present, they are generally seen chasing them in attempts to mate. Unusual among dragonflies, Neon Skimmers exhibit courtship behavior. Males typically only approach females when the are laying eggs. Males approach females with their abdomen raised and clearly visible to females. The female then leaves or the male makes sudden quick advances toward her until she flees, whereupon he attempts to seize her. Males apparently also exhibit threat displays to other males by lowering the abdomen. Copulation typically occurs while perched on limbs or twigs near the water, but it may take place in flight. The entire process usually does not take longer than 30 seconds. Females then lay eggs guarded by the male only for an initial short time. Oviposition typically occurs at midday, by swiftly flying forward, dipping the abdomen in the water and subsequently throwing eggs with droplets of water on shore. They fly up and back again, repeating this several times.

Distribution

Southwestern U.S. through Central America south to Colombia.