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.

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About Jeremy Sell

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

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