Widow Skimmer dragonfly terminal appendages

Widow Skimmer (Libellula luctuosa) is a member of the Skimmer Family of dragonflies that is spotted during the summer and fall months at many water bodies in the mid-Atlantic United States, such as the wetlands at Huntley Meadows Park and ponds at Meadowood Recreation Area.

Widow Skimmers display sexual dimorphism. Although mature males and females look different, immature males and females look similar. Terminal appendages may be used to differentiate immature males from females.

Female dragonflies have a pair of cerci (superior appendages) that have little or no function.

Immature male Widow Skimmers and immature/adult female Widow Skimmers are nearly identical in appearance except for their terminal appendages.

A Widow Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula luctuosa) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is an immature male.

06 JUN 2015 | Huntley Meadows Park | Widow Skimmer (immature male)

Male dragonflies have three terminal appendages, collectively called “claspers,” that are used to grab and hold female dragonflies during mating: an upper pair of cerci (“superior appendages”) and a lower unpaired epiproct (“inferior appendage”).

Digital Dragonflies: presenting high-resolution digital scans of living dragonflies.

  • Genus Libellula | Libellula luctuosa | Widow Skimmer | male | top view
  • Genus Libellula | Libellula luctuosa | Widow Skimmer | male | side view
  • Genus Libellula | Libellula luctuosa | Widow Skimmer | female | top view
  • Genus Libellula | Libellula luctuosa | Widow Skimmer | female | side view

Related Resources: Odonate Terminal Appendages.

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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9 Responses to “Widow Skimmer dragonfly terminal appendages”

  1. Widow Skimmers at Painted Turtle Pond | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] The following individuals are males, as indicated by the pattern of wing spots and their terminal appendages. […]

  2. Widow Skimmer dragonfly (female) | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] A Widow Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula luctuosa) was spotted at Mason Neck West Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female, as indicated by the pattern of wing spots and her terminal appendages. […]

  3. Widow Skimmers at Riverbend Park | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] first photo features a mature male, as indicated by his coloration, pattern of wing spots, and terminal appendages. This individual has mated many times, as shown by scratches on the white pruinescence covering his […]

  4. widow skimmer | lost gander Says:

    […] birds). A good way to separate the sexes is by their terminal appendages, as nicely illustrated in this post by Walter Sanford. The female has two, while the male has three. In order to determine this, one needs a clear […]

  5. birds fly Says:

    Walter, could I email you one of my other images of this individual for your opinion? When enlarged, the photo appears to show something protruding from beneath the tip of the abdomen. That was what I thought could be an epiproct. It’s not visible in the image on my blog. Thanks for the ID assistance.

  6. Widow Skimmer dragonfly (female) | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female, as indicated by her terminal […]

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