Needham’s Skimmer dragonfly (male)

A Needham’s Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula needhami) was spotted along the boardwalk that goes through the central wetland area at Huntley Meadows Park. This individual is a male, as indicated by its reddish-orange coloration and the terminal appendages at the end of its abdomen.

Needham’s Skimmer dragonflies and Golden-winged Skimmer dragonflies (Libellula auripennis) are similar in appearance. Refer to the following gallery of graphics for aid in identifying the two species.

Row 1: Diagnosis of Libellula needhami; Diagnosis of Libellula auripennis.
Row 2: Diagnostic features of several specimens of Libellula needhami (Needham’s Skimmer); Diagnostic features of several specimens of Libellula auripennis (Golden-winged Skimmer).
Source Credit: Graphics used with written permission from Gayle and Jeanell Strickland.

Post Update

Look at the front wings for all species of dragonflies. The leading edge of each wing is called the “costa.” Halfway along the costa is a “dividing line” called the “nodus.”

Gomphidae wing structure. Source Credit: Insect wing (Wikipedia).

For Needham’s Skimmer (L. needhami), notice the costa is dark from the nodus to the body, and yellow-orange from the nodus to the wing tips; for Golden-winged Skimmer (L. auripennis), the entire length of the costa is yellow-orange. This is perhaps the best field mark to differentiate the two species.

Copyright © 2012-2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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