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.
Dig that crazy metallic purple face!
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.
Look to the left…
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.
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.
Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.