Posts Tagged ‘Libellula incesta’

The Blue Boy

August 6, 2017

Several Slaty Skimmer dragonflies (Libellula incesta) were spotted during a photowalk along Dogue Creek at Wickford Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male, as indicated by his terminal appendages and slaty blue coloration.

09 JUL 2017 | Wickford Park | Slaty Skimmer (male)

This guy was my constant companion while I was photographing a male Common Sanddragon perching on a small sandbar in the creek.

09 JUL 2017 | Wickford Park | Slaty Skimmer (male)

I nicknamed this dragonfly “The Blue Boy” because his rich blue-indigo color is reminiscent of an oil painting by Thomas Gainsborough.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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Summertime is skimmer time

July 31, 2017

Refer to the Dragonflies of Northern Virginia Calendar of Flight Periods by Kevin Munroe, former manager at Huntley Meadows Park. Notice the flight period for most Skimmers (Family Libellulidae) is centered on June, July, and August. Since meteorological summer is defined as June, July, and August, summertime is skimmer time.

A female Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula incesta) was spotted during a photowalk at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA, as indicated by her mostly black femora, brown face, and terminal appendages.

Female Slaty Skimmers have a pair of flanges beneath their eighth abdominal segment (S8) that are used to scoop water when laying eggs (oviposition), hence the family name “Skimmer.”

Female Slaty Skimmer dragonflies and female Great Blue Skimmer dragonflies (Libellula vibrans) look similar. The following blog post provides guidance regarding key field markers that can be used to differentiate the two species: Great Blue Skimmer dragonfly (young female).

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Slaty Skimmer dragonflies (mating pair)

March 7, 2017

Odonates (dragonflies and damselflies) are aquatic insects that spend most of their life as larvae that live in water; this stage of their life cycle can last from a few months to a few years, depending upon the species. Finally, they emerge from the water and metamorphose into adults in order to reproduce; their offspring return to the water and the cycle begins again.

A mating pair of Slaty Skimmer dragonflies (Libellula incesta) was spotted at Painted Turtle Pond, Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge (OBNWR), Prince William County, Virginia USA. This pair is “in wheel”: the male is on the upper-left; the female on the lower-right.

A mating pair of Slaty Skimmer dragonflies (Libellula incesta) spotted at Painted Turtle Pond, Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA. This pair is "in wheel."

18 JUN 2016 | OBNWR | Slaty Skimmer (mating pair, “in wheel“)

All dragonflies and damselflies have a 10-segmented abdomen, numbered from front to back: male dragonfly secondary genitalia, called hamules, are located in segments two and three (S2 and S3); female genitalia in segment eight (S8). Dragonflies form the mating wheel in order for their genitalia to connect during copulation.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Rivals

December 13, 2015

A Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula incesta) was spotted at Huntley Meadows Park. This individual is a mature male, as indicated by its coloration and terminal apppendages. A male Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis) is shown in the background.

These two males were rivals, competing for one of two perches overlooking a wetland pool. I was amused by the smaller Blue Dasher’s aggressive behavior as he buzzed the larger Slaty Skimmer repeatedly, trying to recapture the prized perch he occupied before the Slaty showed up.

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Black Saddlebags dragonfly (male)

August 23, 2015

A Black Saddlebags dragonfly (Tramea lacerata) was spotted in the hemi-marsh at Huntley Meadows Park. This individual is a male, as indicated by its coloration and terminal appendages.

A Black Saddlebags dragonfly (Tramea lacerata) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

05 JUL 2015 | Huntley Meadows Park | Black Saddlebags (male)

It is uncommon to see the broad-winged skimmers from the genus Tramea perching. Dragonflies are classified as either “fliers” or “perchers,” based upon their feeding habits. Black Saddlebags are fliers.

A Black Saddlebags dragonfly (Tramea lacerata) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

05 JUL 2015 | Huntley Meadows Park | Black Saddlebags (male)

Black Saddlebags is one of at least five major species of dragonflies known to be migratory in North America. Broad hindwings is an adaptation that enables Black Saddlebags to glide easily when flying. Dragonflies expend less energy when gliding, an aide to long-distance migration. According to the axiom in biology/morphology, form follows function.

Slaty Skimmer dragonflies (Libellula incesta), such as the mature male shown below, look somewhat similar to Black Saddlebags. Slaty Skimmers are “perchers.” Slaty Skimmers aren’t migratory; notice their hindwings are narrower than Black Saddlebags.

Related Resource: A sampler of male dragonfly claspers (Part 2). (See “Skimmer Family,” Black Saddlebags dragonfly.)

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (female, laying eggs)

June 28, 2015

Slaty Skimmer (Libellula incesta) is a member of the Skimmer Family of dragonflies. Females lay eggs (oviposition) by skimming the water surface repeatedly, hence the family name “Skimmer“; two flanges beneath their eighth abdominal segment (S8) scoop water that is used to flick fertilized eggs toward shore, as illustrated in the following annotated image. Remember that all dragonflies and damselflies have a 10-segmented abdomen, numbered from front to back.

A Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula incesta) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a mature female member of a mating pair.

10 JUN 2015 | Huntley Meadows Park | Slaty Skimmer (mature female)

The preceding still photo shows a mature female Slaty Skimmer dragonfly resting immediately after copulation.

The following movie shows the same female laying eggs in a large pool of water downstream from the central wetland area at Huntley Meadows Park on 10 June 2015.

Tech Tip: The preceding movie looks better viewed in full-screen mode.

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Slaty Skimmer dragonfly terminal appendages

June 14, 2015

Slaty Skimmer (Libellula incesta) 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.

Slaty 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.

A Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula incesta) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female.

06 JUN 2015 | Huntley Meadows Park | Slaty Skimmer (female)

Female dragonflies have a pair of cerci (superior appendages) that have little or no function. (See a full-size version of the following image, without annotation.)

A Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula incesta) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female.

06 JUN 2015 | Huntley Meadows Park | Slaty Skimmer (female)

Look closely at the full-size version of the preceding annotated image. Female Slaty Skimmers have a pair of flanges beneath their eighth abdominal segment (S8) that are used to scoop water when laying eggs (oviposition), hence the family name “Skimmer.” Remember that all dragonflies and damselflies have a 10-segmented abdomen, numbered from front to back.

Immature male Slaty Skimmers and immature/adult female Slaty Skimmers are nearly identical in appearance except for their terminal appendages. (See a full-size version of the following image, without annotation.)

A Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula incesta) spotted at Little Hunting Creek, Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is an immature male.

07 JUL 2014 | Huntley Meadows Park | Slaty 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”). (See a full-size version of the following image, without annotation.)

A Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula incesta) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a young male with a slightly malformed wing.

06 JUN 2015 | Huntley Meadows Park | Slaty Skimmer (young male)

This individual is a young male, as indicated by the blue-black partial pruinescence covering his body. He has a slightly malformed wing that is more noticeable in the preceding side view and less noticeable in the following dorsal view.

A Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula incesta) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a young male with a slightly malformed wing.

06 JUN 2015 | Huntley Meadows Park | Slaty Skimmer (young male)

Black pruinescence that completely covers the body of following mature male Slaty Skimmer makes it look quite different from the immature male (shown above), other than its terminal appendages.

A Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula incesta) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a mature male.

10 SEP 2014 | Huntley Meadows Park | Slaty Skimmer (mature male)

Digital scans by G & J Strickland:

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

  • Genus Libellula | Libellula incesta | Slaty Skimmer | male | top view
  • Genus Libellula | Libellula incesta | Slaty Skimmer | male | side view

Related Resources: Odonate Terminal Appendages.

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Great Blue Skimmer dragonfly (young female)

June 12, 2015

A Great Blue Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula vibrans) was spotted on 20 May 2015 during a photowalk alongside the wetlands at Huntley Meadows Park (HMP). This individual is a young female, as indicated by its coloration and terminal appendages.

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

20 MAY 2015 | HMP | Great Blue Skimmer (young female)

The young female was sheltering in vegetation close to the ground.

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

20 MAY 2015 | HMP | Great Blue Skimmer (young female)

She was quite skittish, flying to a new location whenever I violated her comfort zone.

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

20 MAY 2015 | HMP | Great Blue Skimmer (young female)

Look closely at the full-size version of the following annotated image. Female Great Blue Skimmers have a pair of flanges beneath their eighth abdominal segment (S8) that are used to scoop water when laying eggs (oviposition), hence the family name “Skimmer.” Remember that all dragonflies and damselflies have a 10-segmented abdomen, numbered from front to back.

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

20 MAY 2015 | HMP | Great Blue Skimmer (young female)

Immature Great Blue Skimmer dragonflies and immature Slaty Skimmer dragonflies (Libellula incesta) — including both females and males — look very similar. In my opinion, the best field marker for differentiating the two species is femur coloration: Great Blue Skimmer femora are mostly tan; Slaty Skimmer femora are mostly black.

The following female Slaty Skimmer was spotted along the “Hike-Bike Trail” at Huntley Meadows Park. Contrast the difference in coloration of the Slaty Skimmer femurs (below) with the Great Blue Skimmer femurs (above).

A Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula incesta) spotted along the "Hike-Bike Trail" at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female.

04 JUN 2012 | HMP | Slaty Skimmer (young female)

Related Resources:

  • Great Blue Skimmers – “The femora are pale over their basal half with the remaining length, tibiae and tarsi black.”
  • Slaty Skimmer – “The legs are black with brown only at their extreme bases.”

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

  • Genus Libellula | Libellula vibrans | Great Blue Skimmer | female | top view
  • Genus Libellula | Libellula vibrans | Great Blue Skimmer | female | side view

Digital scans by G & J Strickland:

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (mature male)

September 17, 2014

Another photograph from my “Simply Slaty” series …

Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (mature male)

The preceding photo shows a Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula incesta) spotted in the hemi-marsh at Huntley Meadows Park on 10 September 2014. This individual is a mature male, as indicated by its coloration, terminal appendages, and tattered wings.

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Slaty Skimmer dragonflies (mating pair)

August 22, 2014

Slaty Skimmer dragonflies (mating pair, in wheel)

The preceding photograph shows a mating pair of Slaty Skimmer dragonflies (Libellula incesta) spotted on 15 August 2014 during a photowalk along the boardwalk in the hemi-marsh at Huntley Meadows Park. The pair is shown “in wheel”: the male is on top; the female on the bottom.

The following photo shows the female resting after copulation. Look closely at the full-size version of the photo. Females have a pair of flanges beneath their eighth abdominal segment that are used to scoop and hold a few drops of water when laying eggs (oviposition), hence the family name “Skimmer.” Remember that all dragonflies and damselflies have a 10-segmented abdomen, numbered from front to back.

Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (female, resting after copulation)

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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