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Four-spotted Skimmer

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Libellula quadrimaculata

Linnaeus, 1758

Order Odonata
Suborder Anisoptera
Superfamily Libelluloidea
Family Libellulidae
Genus Libellula
Species quadrimaculata Linnaeus, 1758 [Libellula]
Syn Libellula quadripunctata Fabricius, 1781
Syn Libellula maculata Harris, 1782
Syn Libellula ternaria Say, 1839
Syn Libellula quadrimaculata asahinai Schmidt,
Syn Libellula relicta Belyshev, 1973


This well-patterned species' range just enters the western portions of the south-central United States. Its has a yellow face and a dull brown thorax thickly covered with hairs. Abdominal segments 1-6 are dull brown, 7-10 are black with a pale yellow stripe laterally. The wings have basal amber streaks and a small black spot at the nodus. The hindwing have a black triangular spot basally. Segment 8, in females is expanded slightly or not at all.


Total length: 41-45 mm; abdomen: 25-30 mm; hindwing: 31-38 mm.

Similar Species

The wing pattern is distinctive among other species in our region. Hoary Skimmer (L. nodisticta ) has a basal brown stripe in forewing.


Marshy bogs, ponds and lakes, especially peaty waters.


Though this species has been called the most common skimmer in Canada, in the south-central United States it has only been reported from Arkansas and several north central New Mexico counties. Because of its more northern distribution, the casual observer in the region is unlikely to come across this species. In much of its typical northern range, however, it is one of the earliest dragonflies to emerge in the spring. It is commonly seen in open fields and along forest margins where it perches low on vegetation or the ground, similar to Common Whitetail (Plathemis lydia). This species is known to form large aggregations and migrate. As males mature they vigorously patrol their territories around nearly any standing body of water. They readily take other dragonflies their size and smaller as prey. Mating takes place in fli ght, generally lasting only a few seconds, but sometimes as long as a minute. Females deposit eggs unaccompanied, but guarded by the male, by regularly dipping her abdomen to the water surface.


Canada, northern U.S. and northeastern Europe and Asia.