The same species of dragonfly may be different in appearance depending upon gender, age, and natural variation.
For example, the first two dragonflies featured in this post are female Great Blue Skimmer dragonflies (Libellula vibrans), although they look so different from each other that a beginner odonate-hunter could be fooled into thinking they’re two different species! In this case, the difference in appearance of the females is due to age: one is old; the other is young. Contrast the appearance of the two females with the mature male shown in the last photo.
The first individual is an old female, as indicated by its bronze coloration, tattered wings, and terminal appendages.
The next specimen is a young female, as indicated by its “fresher” coloration, pristine wings, and terminal appendages.
All Great Blue Skimmer dragonflies, including both males and females, show several field markers that can be used to identify the species, including blue eyes, white to mostly-white faces, and mostly tan femora (sing. femur).
Related Resource: The Bronze Age.
Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.