Roseate Skimmer dragonfly (male)

Breaking news: I discovered a new species of dragonfly at Huntley Meadows Park — a Roseate Skimmer dragonfly (Orthemis ferruginea). This is the first official record of Orthemis ferruginea in Fairfax County, Virginia.

Actually, I discovered this species last year but was unable to shoot a photo to prove I wasn’t hallucinating pink dragonflies! On 10 September 2014, I spotted a male Roseate Skimmer that made one patrol around a pool near an old beaver lodge (one that overlapped the boardwalk that goes through the central wetland area), landed for one second (no kidding) and flew upstream along Barnyard Run; I never saw it again. This year, I have photographic proof.

This individual is a male, as indicated by its coloration and terminal appendages.

A Roseate Skimmer dragonfly (Orthemis ferruginea) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

23 SEP 2015 | Huntley Meadows Park | Roseate Skimmer (male)

Dig that crazy metallic purple face!

A Roseate Skimmer dragonfly (Orthemis ferruginea) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

23 SEP 2015 | Huntley Meadows Park | Roseate Skimmer (male)

After one spotting, I was willing to dismiss the 2014 Roseate as a transient species; after two spottings, I’m beginning to wonder whether there’s a small reproducing population at Huntley Meadows Park. Perhaps I’m guilty of wishful thinking, but some of the marks on the dragonfly’s abdomen look like scratches from mating.

A Roseate Skimmer dragonfly (Orthemis ferruginea) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

23 SEP 2015 | Huntley Meadows Park | Roseate Skimmer (male)

A Roseate Skimmer dragonfly (Orthemis ferruginea) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

23 SEP 2015 | Huntley Meadows Park | Roseate Skimmer (male)

Look to the left…

A Roseate Skimmer dragonfly (Orthemis ferruginea) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

23 SEP 2015 | Huntley Meadows Park | Roseate Skimmer (male)

Look to the right. Stand up, sit down, fight, fight, fight! Huh? I repurposed a cheer for my old high school football team since it seems to appropriately describe the male Roseate’s aggressive behavior whenever males of other species invaded his space.

A Roseate Skimmer dragonfly (Orthemis ferruginea) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

23 SEP 2015 | Huntley Meadows Park | Roseate Skimmer (male)

Roseate Skimmers are common at tropical latitudes; they are uncommon to rare in the middle latitudes.

These have been working their way north but they are rare … in our area.  I have a record at the National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. in 1998, and two were found in Howard County, Maryland in 1999. Source Credit: Richard Orr, renowned expert on odonates of the mid-Atlantic region of the United States.

I’ve never seen a Roseate Skimmer but am aware of three (3) previous records for Virginia. Source Credit: Steven M. Roble, Ph.D., Staff Zoologist, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage.

Related Resource: Roseate Skimmer (Othemis ferruginea) spotted in Henrico County, Virginia by Allen Bryan.

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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12 Responses to “Roseate Skimmer dragonfly (male)”

  1. Mike Powell Says:

    Congratulation on your newest find, Walter. The dragonfly’s colors are amazing and the light browns and grays of the background of your images really highlight the pink and purple in a way that green vegetation never could. I am thrilled that this Roseate stayed around a lot longer than the one last year so you could capture so many wonderful shots–I suspect most of us will never see one in real life, so we have to experience its beauty through your images.

  2. Mike Powell Says:

    Reblogged this on Mike Powell and commented:
    A pink dragonfly? Fellow photographer and good friend Walter Sanford was not hallucinating when he recently spotted this Roseate Skimmer dragonfly at Huntley Meadows Park, one of only a small handful of sightings ever of this species in Virginia. He spotted one last year too, but this year managed to capture a wonderful series of images of this beauty. Be sure to check out his original posting as well as other spectacular images on his blog.

  3. Laura (PA Pict) Says:

    Your photographs are fantastic in capturing the detail and colours of the dragonfly. I do think that might be the most beautiful dragonfly I’ve ever seen. The colours are incredibly striking.

  4. cihearu - Chronicles of a Bionic Woman Says:

    Swoon… I think I’m in love with this handsome devil! I hope to see one somewhere sometime…
    Carol

  5. Gillian Says:

    Wow! After seeing your photos I now have to say I NEED this dragonfly. Looks like I need to make a trip down south!

  6. joeschelling Says:

    Too cool, Mike! It does pay to pay attention out there and great fun getting a County record!

  7. New Hampshire Garden Solutions Says:

    That’s a beautiful dragonfly!

  8. Peopoll’s Choice Awards – Top 10 Photos of 2015 | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] 23 SEP 2015 | HMP | Roseate Skimmer (male) […]

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