Posts Tagged ‘Bar-winged Skimmer dragonfly’

More Bar-winged Skimmers (males)

July 23, 2021

At least two male Bar-winged Skimmer dragonflies (Libellula axilena) were spotted along the shoreline of a small pond at an undisclosed location in Prince William County, Virginia USA.

It’s possible all of the photos featured in this blog post are of the same mature male that is featured in another recent post, as indicated by a distinctive pattern of spider web strands on the wings of the dragonfly.

Look closely along the leading edge of the wings. Notice the dark bars from which the common name for this species is derived are almost invisible.

17 JUN 2021 | PNC. Wm. County |  Bar-winged Skimmer (mature male)

17 JUN 2021 | PNC. Wm. County |  Bar-winged Skimmer (mature male)

17 JUN 2021 | PNC. Wm. County |  Bar-winged Skimmer (mature male)

17 JUN 2021 | PNC. Wm. County |  Bar-winged Skimmer (mature male)

For what it’s worth, the first and last photos in this set are my favorite.

Related Resource: Bar-winged Skimmer dragonfly (male).

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Bar-winged Skimmer dragonfly (male)

July 9, 2021

A Bar-winged Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula axilena) was spotted along the shoreline of a small pond at an undisclosed location in Prince William County, Virginia USA.

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

17 JUN 2021 | PNC. Wm. County |  Bar-winged Skimmer (mature male)

This mature male has mated many times, as indicated by the scratches on the light-blue pruinescence covering his abdomen.

Males that have mated often have marks on their abdomen where the female legs have scratched them. This is especially obvious in species in which males develop pruinosity, as the pruinosity on the mid-abdomen is scratched off, and the signs are visible at some distance. Source Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Locations 390-392). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

The next photo is full-frame (4,000 x 3,000 pixels), that is, uncropped.

17 JUN 2021 | PNC. Wm. County |  Bar-winged Skimmer (mature male)

Look closely along the leading edge of this individual’s wings. Notice the dark bars from which the common name for this species is derived are almost invisible.

Habitat

According to Dr. Steve Roble’s excellent datasets for the Commonwealth of Virginia, the adult flight period for Bar-winged Skimmer is from May 08 to September 28. Dr. Roble describes its habitat as “ponds.”

“Ponds” is perhaps too simple a descriptor for the habitat preferred by Bar-winged Skimmer, otherwise L. axilena should be more common than a map of its range suggests. Dennis Paulson provides a little more specificity.

Habitat: Wooded slow streams and sloughs, forest pools. Source Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Location 9152). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

Kevin Munroe, former manager at Huntley Meadows Park, provides the best description of Bar-winged Skimmer habitat that I’ve seen.

One of our less common skimmers, this dragonfly has relatively specific habitat needs. It prefers very shallow marshy pools in the full sun. If there’s enough water for fish, it’s too deep for Bar-winged Skimmers. And of course shallow pools in the full sun tend to quickly evaporate and dry up, so stable populations in Northern Va. are few and far between. The similar Great Blue Skimmer also likes shallow water, but is much more common. One reason being that they can handle partly shady forest pools and forest swamps, both too dark for Bar-wings. Source Credit: Bar-winged Skimmer, by Kevin Munroe.

I have observed Bar-winged Skimmer dragonflies at two locations in Huntley Meadows Park that provided habitat similar to Kevin’s recipe. Bar-winged Skimmer is no longer found at either place.

I have seen Bar-winged Skimmer at Sundew Bog, located in the Central Tract at Patuxent Research Refuge.

The Central Tract of the refuge is closed to public visitation due to the sensitive nature of much of the scientific work. Source Credit: Patuxent Research Refuge brochure.

Range map

Not all species of Skimmers are as common as I tend to think. For example, the following map shows all official records for Libellula axilena in the United States of America. As you can see, Bar-winged Skimmer is a relatively uncommon species of odonate.

What are the take-aways?

Many species of dragonflies in the Family Libellulidae (Skimmers) are habitat generalists and relatively easy to find almost anywhere there is water. In contrast, I think it’s fair to say Bar-winged Skimmer is a habitat specialist that is challenging to find.

Related Resources

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Beware of look-alikes!

June 18, 2016

Several Bar-winged Skimmer dragonflies (Libellula axilena) were spotted on 10 June 2016 at a vernal pool located in Huntley Meadows Park (HMP).

The first individual is an immature male. Notice the white “frosting” at the base of his hind wings — one of several key field marks for Bar-winged Skimmer.

A Bar-winged Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula axilena) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is an immature male.

10 JUN 2016 | HMP | Bar-winged Skimmer (immature male)

The last individual is a mature male. His body (thorax and abdomen) is covered completely by blue pruinescence that masks the coloration he displayed as an immature male.

A Bar-winged Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula axilena) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a mature male.

10 JUN 2016 | HMP | Bar-winged Skimmer (mature male)

Related Resource: Bar-winged Skimmer dragonflies (Libellula axilena) look similar to Great Blue Skimmer dragonflies (Libellula vibrans). Several key field marks can be used to differentiate the two species of dragonflies, as shown in the following blog post by Walter Sanford (featuring several annotated images): Bar-winged Skimmer dragonfly (mature male).

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Bar-winged Skimmer dragonfly (mature male)

June 20, 2015

Bar-winged Skimmer dragonflies (Libellula axilena) look similar to Great Blue Skimmer dragonflies (Libellula vibrans).

A Bar-winged Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula axilena) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a mature male.

10 JUN 2015 | HMP | Bar-winged Skimmer (mature male)

Several key field marks can be used to differentiate the two species of dragonflies, as shown in the following annotated images.

A Bar-winged Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula axilena) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a mature male.

10 JUN 2015 | HMP | Bar-winged Skimmer (mature male)

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” (the leading edge of both the fore- and hind wings), located between the nodus and pterostigma — hence its common name, “Bar-winged Skimmer”; the Great Blue Skimmer does not.

A Great Blue Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula vibrans) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

31 MAY 2015 | HMP | Great Blue Skimmer (mature male)

Side view of Great Blue Skimmer (shown above); dorsal view (shown below).

A Great Blue Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula vibrans) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a young male.

31 MAY 2015 | HMP | Great Blue Skimmer (young male)

The following gallery features several more photos of the same Bar-winged Skimmer spotted at Huntley Meadows Park (HMP) on 10 June 2015.

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

A sampler of male dragonfly claspers (Part 2)

March 18, 2015

The theme of the “sampler series” is simple. Male dragonfly claspers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but their function is identical for all species of dragonflies: male dragonflies use their claspers to grab and hold female dragonflies during mating.

There are seven families of dragonflies. Part 2 (of 2) features a sampler of select images showing male dragonfly claspers from the Emerald Family, Skimmer Family, and Spiketail Family. The author never has been fortunate to photograph either species of the Petaltail Family.

Emerald Family

The following image shows a Slender Baskettail dragonfly (Epitheca costalis) spotted in an open field along the trail to Hidden Pond, a small lake located at Meadowood Recreation Area.

Slender Baskettail dragonfly (male)

01 MAY 2013 | Meadowood Recreation Area | Slender Baskettail (male)

Skimmer Family

The next image shows a Bar-winged Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula axilena) spotted near a vernal pool in the forest at Huntley Meadows Park. Many members of the Skimmer Family have terminal appendages that look similar to the Bar-winged Skimmer, such as Painted Skimmer, Eastern Pondhawk, and Blue-faced Meadowhawk, to name a few species.

Bar-winged Skimmer dragonfly (young adult male)

31 MAY 2014 | Huntley Meadows Park | Bar-winged Skimmer (male)

The following image shows a battle-scarred Black Saddlebags dragonfly (Tramea lacerata) spotted alongside the boardwalk in the central wetland area hemi-marsh at Huntley Meadows Park. Black Saddlebags’ terminal appendages are unlike most members of the Skimmer Family.

Black Saddlebags dragonfly (male)

12 SEP 2014 | Huntley Meadows Park | Black Saddlebags (male)

Spiketail Family

The last image shows an Arrowhead Spiketail dragonfly (Cordulegaster obliqua) I discovered while exploring a small stream at a remote location in Huntley Meadows Park.

Arrowhead Spiketail dragonfly (male)

07 JUL 2014 | Huntley Meadows Park | Arrowhead Spiketail (male)

Related Resources:

Editor’s Notes: Part 1 (of 2) features a sampler of select images showing male dragonfly dragonfly claspers from the Clubtail Family, Cruiser Family, and Darner Family. The author has never been fortunate to photograph either species of the Petaltail Family.

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Advanced Dragonfly Studies

November 26, 2014

During June 2014, I attended an adult class and field trip offered by the Audubon Naturalist Society called “Advanced Dragonfly Studies: Common Darners, Spiketails, Cruisers, and Clubtails of the Mid-Atlantic.” The class instructor was Richard Orr, renowned expert on odonates of the mid-Atlantic region of the United States. The field trip to the Patuxent Research Refuge was led by Mr. Orr and Stephanie Mason, Senior Naturalist, Audubon Naturalist Society.

As I was writing a recent blog post entitled Year in Review: New finds in 2014 (odonates), I decided against including odonates spotted during during the ANS field trip. My rationale was simple: I didn’t find most of the specimens. 42 species of odonates were observed in one day, including many new species for my “life list.” I was able to photograph only a few of the odonates seen by the group due to the fast pace of the advanced class.

Widow Skimmer dragonfly

While waiting for all participants to arrive for the field trip, Bonnie Ott spotted a Widow Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula luctuosa) perching in a flower bed beside the North Tract Visitor Contact Station. This individual is an immature male, as indicated by its coloration and terminal appendages.

Widow Skimmer dragonfly (immature male)

Elegant Spreadwing damselfly

An Elegant Spreadwing damselfly (Lestes inaequalis) was netted at Rieve’s Pond. This individual is a female, as indicated by its coloration. Notice the ovipositor visible on the underside of its abdomen, near the tip. “Usually not very common,” according to Dennis Paulson, author of Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East. [New species for my “life list.”]

Elegant Spreadwing damselfly (female)

Double-ringed Pennant dragonfly

A Double-ringed Pennant dragonfly (Celithemis verna) was spotted at New Marsh. This individual is an immature male, as indicated by its coloration and terminal appendages. [New species for my “life list.”]

Double-ringed Pennant dragonfly (immature male)

Another Double-ringed Pennant was spotted at Sundew Bog in the Central Tract. This individual is a mature male. Stephanie Mason is shown in the background, referring to Stokes Beginner’s Guide to DragonfliesEditor’s Note: “The Central Tract of the refuge is closed to public visitation due to the sensitive nature of much of the scientific work.” Source Credit: Patuxent Research Refuge brochure.

Double-ringed Pennant dragonfly (mature male)

Elfin Skimmer dragonfly

Tiny Elfin Skimmer dragonflies (Nannothemis bella) can be found at Sundew Bog. This individual is either a female or immature male, based upon its coloration. [New species for my “life list.”]

Elfin Skimmer dragonfly (Nannothemis bella)

Bar-winged Skimmer dragonfly

A Bar-winged Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula axilena) was netted at Sundew Bog. This individual is a male, as indicated by its coloration and terminal appendages.

Bar-winged Skimmer dragonfly (male)

Golden-winged Skimmer dragonfly

A Golden-winged Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula auripennis) was netted at Sundew Bog. This individual is a male, as indicated by its coloration and terminal appendages. Golden-winged Skimmer dragonflies and Needham’s Skimmer dragonflies (Libellula needhami) are similar in appearance. [New species for my “life list.”]

Golden-winged Skimmer dragonfly (male)

The distinguished gentleman holding the dragonfly is Peter Munroe, Kevin Munroe’s father. Kevin is the manager of Huntley Meadows Park.

Golden-winged Skimmer dragonfly (male)

Clubtail dragonfly

The following specimen, spotted at Sundew Bog, is either an Ashy Clubtail (Phanogomphus lividus) or Lancet Clubtail (Phanogomphus exilis) dragonfly. Ashy- and Lancet Clubtail dragonflies are similar in appearance and difficult to differentiate with complete certainty. Both species were spotted at this location. This individual is a female, as indicated by its terminal appendages and the rounded shape of its hind wings (near the abdomen).

Clubtail dragonfly (female)

Emerging Common Sanddragon dragonflies

The last stop on the field trip was a walk/wade in the Little Patuxent River, southeast of Bailey Bridge, where we spotted several Common Sanddragon dragonflies (Progomphus obscurus), including a few individuals metamorphosing from larvae to adults. [New species for my “life list.”]

Tech Tips: All of the preceding photos were taken using a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-ZS7 digital camera. The camera is no longer available. The ZS7 was one of the first digital cameras that featured GPS geotagging. Good idea; bad implementation. After extensive field-testing, I discovered the ZS7’s built-in GPS didn’t work as well as Apple iPhone’s “A-GPS” for geotagging photos, and stopped using the camera. I decided to bring the camera with me on the field trip because it’s small, lightweight, and relatively inexpensive in contrast with several other digital cameras I own. Turns out “lightweight” is the operative word. After a long hiatus, I’d forgotten how poorly the camera performs — regrettably, the photos featured in this post are an unpleasant reminder!

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Year in review: New finds in 2014 (odonates)

November 20, 2014

In addition to several “New discoveries in 2014,” I spotted several species of odonates in 2014 that were new finds for my “life list,” as well as a few first-time sightings of either a male or female for familiar species of dragonflies.

Ashy Clubtail dragonfly (male)

This is my first confirmed spotting of an Ashy Clubtail dragonfly (Gomphus lividus).

Ashy- or Lancet Clubtail

02 May 2014 | Meadowood Recreation Area

Common Baskettail dragonfly (male)

This is my first confirmed spotting of a male Common Baskettail dragonfly (Epitheca cynosura). I have seen a few females in the past.

Common Baskettail dragonfly (male)

02 May 2014 | Meadowood Recreation Area

Bar-winged Skimmer dragonfly (young male)

This is my first spotting of a Bar-winged Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula axilena).

Bar-winged Skimmer dragonfly (young adult male)

31 May 2014 | Huntley Meadows Park

Painted Skimmer dragonflies (male, female)

Although I had seen one Painted Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula semifasciata) in the past, these individuals are among the first ones I photographed.

Painted Skimmer dragonfly (male)

Male | 06 June 2014 | Huntley Meadows Park

Painted Skimmer dragonfly (female)

Female | 23 May 2014 | Huntley Meadows Park

Swamp Darner dragonfly (female, oviposition)

I have seen lots of Swamp Darner dragonflies (Epiaeschna heros) in the past, but it’s challenging to identify their gender on the wing. I photographed one perching male on 04 June 2012. The following individual is one of the first confirmed females that I have spotted.

Swamp Darner dragonfly (female, oviposition)

02 June 2014 | Huntley Meadows Park

Spot-winged Glider dragonfly (female)

This is the first confirmed female Spot-winged Glider dragonfly (Pantala hymenaea) that I have spotted.

Spot-winged Glider dragonfly (Pantala hymenaea)

15 July 2014 | Beacon of Groveton

Eastern Pondhawk dragonflies (mating pair, in wheel)

This mating pair of Eastern Pondhawk dragonflies (Erythemis simplicicollis) is one of the first times I was quick enough to photograph a pair “in wheel.” This image is also among the first photographs taken using my Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera, 55-200mm zoom lens (88-320mm, 35mm equivalent), and Fujifilm Shoe Mount Flash EF-42 in TTL mode.

Eastern Pondhawk dragonflies (mating pair, in wheel)

20 August 2014 | Huntley Meadows Park

Slender Spreadwing damselfly (male)

I have seen many female Slender Spreadwing damselflies (Lestes rectangularis) in the past, but this is the first male I spotted.

Slender Spreadwing damselfly (male)

28 September 2014 | Huntley Meadows Park

Shadow Darner dragonfly (male)

Although I have spotted Shadow Darner dragonflies (Aeshna umbrosa) in the past, this is one of the first individuals I photographed.

Shadow Darner dragonfly (male)

24 October 2014 | Huntley Meadows Park

Related Resources:

Editor’s Note: This is Part 2 in a three-part series — a retrospective look at 2014.

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Bar-winged Skimmer dragonfly (mature male)

July 21, 2014

The following photographs show a Bar-winged Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula axilena) perching near a vernal pool at Huntley Meadows Park on 17 July 2014. This individual is a mature male (as indicated by its coloration, terminal appendages, and tattered wings) that has mated many times.

Males that have mated often have marks on their abdomen where the female legs have scratched them. This is especially obvious in species in which males develop pruinosity, as the pruinosity on the mid-abdomen is scratched off, and the signs are visible at some distance. Source Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Locations 390-392). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

Bar-winged Skimmer dragonfly (adult male)

Bar-winged Skimmers are one of many species of dragonflies that perch with their front legs tucked behind their eyes/head.

Bar-winged Skimmer dragonfly (adult male)

The yellows and greens in the blurry background of the following photo are flowering partridge pea plants (Chamaecrista fasciculata), “a species of legume native to most of the eastern United States.”

Bar-winged Skimmer dragonfly (adult male)

Thanks to Matt Ryan, Naturalist, Huntley Meadows Park, for identifying the plant in the preceding photo.

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Bar-winged Skimmer dragonflies (young males)

June 3, 2014

This post features photos of one or more Bar-winged Skimmer dragonflies (Libellula axilena) spotted during a photowalk at Huntley Meadows Park on 31 May 2014. These individuals are young males, as indicated by their partial pruinescence and terminal appendages.

The wings are generally clear with a touch of white pruinosity basally in the hindwings … . There is also a black bar between the nodus and pterostigma and the tips of each wing are black. Source Credit: Bar-winged Skimmer, Odonata Central.

Bar-winged Skimmer dragonfly (young adult male)

Bar-winged Skimmer dragonfly (young adult male)

Bar-winged Skimmer dragonfly (young adult male)

Bar-winged Skimmer dragonfly (young adult male)

The young male dragonfly is flexing its terminal appendages, as shown in the following photo, perhaps in preparation for mating with a female that he saw and I didn’t.

Bar-winged Skimmer dragonfly (young adult male)

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Bar-winged Skimmer versus Great Blue Skimmer

June 1, 2014

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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