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Painted Skimmer



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Libellula semifasciata

Burmeister, 1839


Order Odonata
Suborder Anisoptera
Superfamily Libelluloidea
Family Libellulidae
Genus Libellula
Species semifasciata Burmeister, 1839 [Libellula]
Syn Libellula bifasciata Fabricius, 1775
Syn Libellula ternaria Say, 1839
Syn Libellula maculata Rambur, 1842
Syn Libellula hersilia Blanchard, 1849


Identification

This is a moderately-sized yellow and brown species found in the eastern portions of the region. Its wings are distinctive with a basal yellow wash of color that extends along the costal area to the nodus. There is a dark brown stripe beyond the midbasal space in the forewing and below in the hindwing, as well as a brown spot at the nodus and apically in both wings. The face is olivaceous turning red in mature males. The thorax is tawny brown thinly beset with short brown hairs and lacks a middorsal stripe. The sides each have an oblique yellowish-white stripe behind the darker first and third lateral stripes. The legs are pale brown basally and black beyond. The abdomen is brown tapering strongly posteriorly. It is pale yellowish-brown basally, often appearing translucent until segment 6. A pale lateral stripe is present on each side. Segments 7-10 and the caudal appendages are black dorsally. The lateral margins of segment 8 are only narrowly expanded laterally.

Size

Total length: 39-48 mm; abdomen: 25-31 mm; hindwing: 31-38 mm.

Similar Species

Similar small pennants (Celithemis ) are smaller with more extensive wing markings basally. King skimmers (Libellula ) have similar markings and lack dark wingtips.

Habitat

Marshy forest seepages, ponds and slow streams.

Discussion

This species can be inconspicuous flying casually around the forest ponds it patrols. It seldom occurs in large numbers. Its flight is usually swift and with sweeping curves.

Distribution

Eastern U.S. and Canada from Florida to Texas.