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Yellow-sided Skimmer

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Libellula flavida

Rambur, 1842

Order Odonata
Suborder Anisoptera
Superfamily Libelluloidea
Family Libellulidae
Genus Libellula
Species flavida Rambur, 1842 [Libellula]
Syn Libellula plumbea Uhler, 1857


This is a moderately-sized, widespread, but fairly uncommon species of the south-central United States. Its face is pale, but quickly turns black in males. The thorax is brown in front with a pale cream-colored middorsal stripe. This area becomes pruinose blue in mature males. The sides are cream colored and divided by a brown stripe on the third lateral suture. The wings are deeply tinged with amber along the front fifth of e ach wing, especially towards the tips and there is a dark brown stripe on either side of the midbasal space. The legs are brown basally and become black beyond. The abdomen is brown with dark middorsal stripe and the middle segments are strongly depressed. The abdomen becomes dark with a powder blue covering dorsally at maturity.


Total length: 47-52 mm; abdomen: 31-36 mm; hindwing: 36-42 mm

Similar Species

Female and teneral Golden-winged (L. auripennis ) and Needham's (L. needhami ) Skimmers have longer abdomens and the sides of their thorax are light brown. Young Spangled Skimmers (L. cyanea ) are smaller and have a bicolored pterostigma. Comanche Skimmer (L. comanche ) also has a bicolored pterostigma and white face.


Marshy ponds, lakes, borrow pits and slow flowing streams.


This species was considered a variation of Spangled Skimmer until detailed morphological differences between the two species were described. Little has been published on its behavior, but it is a wary species. Males are typically found patrolling in small numbers around ponds and borrow pits. Often only one or two individuals will be present around what would seem suitable habitat.


Eastern U.S. from New York to Florida and Texas.