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 (Odonata: Libellulidae: Libellula 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.