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Eight-spotted Skimmer



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Libellula forensis

Hagen, 1861


Order Odonata
Suborder Anisoptera
Superfamily Libelluloidea
Family Libellulidae
Genus Libellula
Species forensis Hagen, 1861 [Libellula]


Identification

This is a western species similar to the more widely distributed Twelve-spotted Skimmer (L. pulchella). Its face is pale yellow and there are two pale spots on the side and on the top of the frons. The thorax is brown with a pair of lateral yellow stripes, one on each side of the spiracle. There is a dark brown spot basally in each wing, broadly extending out to t he triangle and a second more diffuse spot extending from the nodus towards the pterostigma, but not reaching it. Mature males and some females develop white opaque spots in between these darker areas. The legs are black. The stout abdomen is dark brown with a pale yellow lateral stripe interrupted along the posterior segments, resulting in a series of spots. Segment 8 in females is slightly expanded laterally. The abdomen in older individuals develops a gray-pruinose appearance.

Size

Total length: 44-50 mm; abdomen: 27-32 mm; hindwing: 35-41 mm.

Similar Species

Twelve-spotted Skimmer has dark wingtips. Hoary Skimmer (L. nodisticta ) has a brown spot in the wing at the nodus rather than a broad band. Male Common (Plathemis lydia ) and Desert (P. subornata ) Whitetails have shorter abdomens and a brown band in the wing that reaches from the nodus to the pterostigma.

Habitat

Muck-bottomed ponds, lakes and sloughs.

Discussion

This species barely enters the region from the west, where it is known from southeastern New Mexico. It is often seen flying alongside the similar Twelve-spotted Skimmer and they may indistinguishable in flight though Eight-spotted Skimmers often have a larger white spot near the pterostigma. Females lay eggs, unattended by the male, by tapping their abdomens to the water's surface along the shoreline.

Distribution

West of the Rockies in the U.S. and Canada.