Random Insect: Widow skimmer dragonfly

Widow skimmer dragonfly (Odonata: Libellulidae: Libellula lactuosa) photographed 07/26/2011 near Clayton Michigan.

Identifying this dragonfly was a bit tricky, but not as tricky as getting a clear shot of it.  It wouldn’t hold still and kept flying a short distance away from me.  I ended up getting this photo at a distance of about ten feet.  I was kind of surprised it turned out this well.  I wasn’t able to capture this insect, and identification was based solely on photos.

I initially pegged this as a member of the family Aeshnidae, since the eyes seemed to meet dorsally.  Unable to find a suitable match, however, I revisited the wing venation.  Since the antenodal crossveins were in line and it lacked an oblique crossvein behind the proximal stigma, I realized it was a member of the family Libellulidae.  Members of this family typically exhibit a “boot” shape in the rear wing veins (described here) but the black splotch obscured that feature on this insect.  After some more research I identified this as a widow skimmer (OdonataLibellulidaeLibellula lactuosa).  The lack of white banding on the wings marks this as either a female or young male.

Members of the order Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) have aquatic larvae, and adults are often found near water.  Interestingly, I found this individual in a prairie with no significant bodies of water nearby.  According to BugGuide, these dragonflies can sometimes be found “well away from water.”  That seemed to be the case here.


About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in Entomology, Random Insect and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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