Bar-winged Skimmer versus Great Blue Skimmer

I spotted a new life-list dragonfly at Huntley Meadows Park on 23 May 2014: Bar-winged Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula axilena). This individual is a young adult male, as indicated by its blue partial pruinescence and terminal appendages. I found it in the exact habitat listed on the Odonata Central Web page for Bar-winged Skimmer: “Forest ponds, pools and ditches.”

Bar-winged Skimmer dragonfly (young adult male)

Bar-winged Skimmer dragonflies are similar to Great Blue Skimmer dragonflies in appearance, such as the young adult male shown below. Several key field markers can be used to differentiate the two species of dragonflies: Bar-winged Skimmers have dark reddish-brown eyes and a metallic black face; Great Blue Skimmers have blue eyes and a white face. Also notice the Bar-winged Skimmer has a small black bar along the “costa,” located along the leading edge of both the fore- and hind wings between the nodus and pterostigma, hence its name, “Bar-winged Skimmer”; the Great Blue Skimmer does not.

Great Blue Skimmer dragonfly (young adult male)

The preceding photograph of a Great Blue Skimmer dragonfly was taken on 02 June 2012 during a photowalk at the “Wildlife Sanctuary,” one of seven small parks owned and maintained by the Community Association of Hollin Hills, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

Editor’s Note: See more photos of Bar-winged Skimmer dragonflies in my next post, “Bar-winged Skimmer dragonflies (young males).”

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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3 Responses to “Bar-winged Skimmer versus Great Blue Skimmer”

  1. Mike Powell Says:

    Great catch, Walter, and really useful information on how you were able to distinguish it from a Great Blue Skimmer.

  2. Christy Turner Says:

    The Great Blue Skimmer is gorgeous!

    • waltersanford Says:

      Thanks, Christy! The beauty of the Bar-winged Skimmer lies in the fact that it’s relatively uncommon while the Great Blue Skimmer is very common. Be sure to check out the new photos of Bar-winged Skimmers that will be posted on Tuesday, 03 June 2014.

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