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Spangled Skimmer



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Libellula cyanea

Fabricius, 1775


Order Odonata
Suborder Anisoptera
Superfamily Libelluloidea
Family Libellulidae
Genus Libellula
Species cyanea Fabricius, 1775 [Libellula]
Syn Libellula quadrupla Say, 1839
Syn Libellula bistigma Uhler, 1857


Identification

This eastern species is similar to Comanche Skimmer (L. comanche ) with a bicolored pterostigma, but it is smaller and has a dark black face. The front of the thorax is brown with a broad pale yellow or white middorsal stripe. The sides are pale with distinct brown third lateral stripe isolating the two large pale areas. The wings are clear with a white and brown pterostigma, a distinct dark stripe on the costal area that doesn't extend beyond triangle and dark colored wingtips. The front area of the wings beyond the nodus are tinged with amber or yellow, particularly in tenerals and females. The legs are brown basally, becoming black beyond. The abdomen is short, broad, and pale yellow with distinct dark middorsal and lateral stripes. Segment 8 is only slightly expanded laterally in the female. The entire thorax and abdomen, including caudal appendages, become pruinose dark steel blue in mature males.

Size

Total length: 40-48 mm; abdomen: 29-34 mm; hindwing: 31-37 mm.

Similar Species

Comanche Skimmer is larger and has a white face. Yellow-sided Skimmer (L. flavida ) lacks a distinct bicolored pterostigma and the wingtips may be brown or clear. Slaty Skimmer (L. incesta ) is much larger and lacks a bicolored pterostigma. Bar-winged Skimmer (L. axilena ) has dark markings on the anterior edge of the wings, is larger and lacks a bicolored pterostigma.

Habitat

Marshy ponds, pools and lakes.

Discussion

This species is common around farm stock ponds and waters dammed by beavers. Adults perch on top of grasses surrounding their usually marshy habitat. Aspects of their reproductive behavior and biology that I have witnessed do not appear especially different from those of other members in the genus. Females lay eggs alone, but guarded by the male.

Distribution

Eastern U.S. from Maine to Texas.