Currently viewing the category: "Dragonflies and Damselflies"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Large redand yellow bee/wasp?
September 2, 2009
Would like to know the name of this bee-like bug that I found eating a dragonfly
Wondering999
Odenton, Maryland

European Hornet eats Dragonfly

European Hornet eats Swamp Darner

Dear Wondering999,
The predator in your photo is a European Hornet, Vespa crabo, an introduced species, so we are tagging it as an Invasive Exotic.  You can read about the species on BugGuide.  The prey seems to resemble one of the Pilot Darners in the genus Coryphaeschna, but we are uncertain if the range is a far north as Maryland.  We would love assistance with the Dragonfly ID.  We didn’t have much luck on this Dragonfly of Maryland page.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Please name these dragonflies!
August 11, 2009
I found these battered bugs along a dusty south Kansas roadside in early August.
The slender one looks somewhat like a meadowhawk, but its eyes are brown and its body blue-black.
The old warrior resembles a male widow skimmer, but lacks the white patches on the wings.
Can you identify them?
Digital Dave
East of Wichita, Kansas

Slaty Skimmer

Slaty Skimmer

Dear Digital Dave,
We have been spending the morning trying to post some recent Dragonfly identification requests after one reader wrote back with a week old request.  We remember opening your images on the last full day Mom was visiting, and she took precedence over posting letters.  We believe your slender dragonfly is a Slaty Skimmer, Libullela incesta, based on several images posted to BugGuide.  Based on this comment on BugGuide, we doubt that this is a threatened species:  “A common species, tolerant of moderately polluted suburban ponds and the like.
”  We agree that your second specimen is a Widow Skimmer, Libellula luctuosa.  According to BugGuide:  “Mature males have a large basal area of brown on each of the four wings, and each wing also has a whitish area roughly at the middle. Their brown bodies become increasingly pruinose (whitish) as they get older.  Females and immature males have the same brown wing bands as the mature males, but not the whitish areas. Wings usually have a brown tip. A dorsal view of the abdomen shows a brown band at center with a yellow stripe running along each side.”  That description would mean that this is a male in transition from immature to mature status.  Just because his wings are tattered, does not mean he is old.  He may have experienced some trauma, like escaping from a predator, that damaged his wings.  There is an image of a male Widow Skimmer on BugGuide that very nearly matches this coloration pattern.

Widow Skimmer

Widow Skimmer

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Pretty red Dragonfly
August 12, 2009
I came home this afternoon (8-12-09) to see this guy flitting around my daylilies. He was just so pretty and the red color was stunning! I hurried in to grab my husband’s camera to try and take some pictures. I say try as HE is the photographer (he does weddings and such) and all I typically get is a point and shoot!
But I am so curious as to what he is. I’ve never seen one this color before! Thanks for your help!
Jenn
Columbus, Ohio

Band Winged Meadowhawk

Band Winged Meadowhawk

Hi Jenn,
WE tried unsuccessfully for over a half an hour to identify your dragonfly on BugGuide.  We were about to give up when we decided to web search Odonata Ohio and found a page called North Coast Odonata with a photo gallery and there we found the Band Winged Meadowhawk, Sympetrum semicinctum.  We then found the Band Winged Meadowhawk on BugGuide.  The Dragonflies and Damselflies of New Jersey website indicates:  “Usually found near marshy areas in or near woodlands; it is one of our less common meadowhawks.”

Band Winged Meadowhawk

Band Winged Meadowhawk

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Dragonfly resubmission
August 14, 2009
Here in Sacramento, Ca., for years in the summer I’ve seen dragonflies perch on the tip of the radio antennae of my car, presumably looking for prey.
For the past ten years I’ve seen black and gray ones, but this year it seems to be all reddish orange ones like the pictures I sent. I don’t know if this is merely a coincidence, but all the years I saw the black and gray ones, I had a black car. This year I bought a fire engine red car and suddenly all the dragonflies are red ones. Are they attracted to a background they can fade into? It appears that these red dragonflies are either neon skimmers or flame skimmers. I can’t tell the difference really. Sacramento fits within both of their ranges. These pictures might be of two separate insects. The “dragonflytop” picture was taken a week before the other two.
Jammin Bill
Sacramento, Ca.

Flame Skimmer

Flame Skimmer

Dear Jammin Bill,
First we have to apologize for not responding to your original email, but as we stated in a personal email, we haven’t the time or the staff to even read all of the mail we receive, often over 100 emails a day during the summer.  We choose randomly, often based on a subject line.  Often, like you, people will write back to us and tell us that the sent photos a week or more earlier, and going back through old mail is nearly an impossibility.  All resubmissions to our site should contain attached photos once again.  We realize that this is an inconvenience, but it is the only way we are able to smoothly make postings.  If we have to hunt through multiple emails to get all necessary information, we just abandon the effort and move on to an easier identification request.
In our opinion, you have submitted three images of a male Flame Skimmer, Libellula saturata, based on the distribution of the amber coloring on the wings.  BugGuide has a fine explanation on telling the difference between Flame Skimmers and the Neon Skimmer, , complete with comparison photographs.  BugGuide states:  “See species description on the U. of Texas website odonatacentral.  L. saturata – Flame skimmer: males bright orange with amber color in the wings covering half the width of the wing, out to the nodus, and all the way to the rear of the hind wing. Females paler but still with some amber at least on the leading edge of the wing. …  L. croceipennis – Neon Skimmer: males bright red with amber wing color only covering a quarter of the wing, halfway to the nodus, and not all the way back to the rear edge of the hind wing. Female paler and with essentially clear wings.
We don’t know what to say about your observation regarding the color of the dragonflies that perch on your antenna, and the color of the cars.  Dragonflies can be very territorial, and it is quite probable that the same individual returns to the same perch on a daily basis.  That would support the theory that all your photos are of the same individual since the period of time that elapsed between the documentation is within the lifespan of an individual dragonfly.  Perhaps in previous years, more drably colored females of the species perched on your black car.  Without a photo though, it would be difficult to hazard a guess as to the species.  Finally, we believe Dragonflies see in color, and your question about the color of the surroundings might have some validity.

Flame Skimmer

Flame Skimmer

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Dragonfly ID
August 1, 2009
This was taken in NJ 8/2/09. Can you you ID?
Thanks Brian
Williamstown NJ

Widow Skimmer

Widow Skimmer

Hi Brian,
This is a male Widow Skimmer, Libellula luctuosa.  According to BugGuide:  “Mature males have a large basal area of brown on each of the four wings, and each wing also has a whitish area roughly at the middle. Their brown bodies become increasingly pruinose (whitish) as they get older.  Females and immature males have the same brown wing bands as the mature males, but not the whitish areas. Wings usually have a brown tip. A dorsal view of the abdomen shows a brown band at center with a yellow stripe running along each side.
Since the body on your individual is pale lavender, we can deduce that it is a more mature male.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Dragonfly – Whitetail?
August 1, 2009
These big guys follow my mom around while she gardens all the time in the summer, I think mostly because she uproots the rocks around the garden’s edge and exposes a ton of little insects that all flee. This time she asked me to follow her around as well to get a good shot of one. I managed to catch this girl (I think) as she perched on top of one of the hanging flower pots that was taken down to be watered, though she was really flighty for almost 20 minutes before she surrendered. The picture turned out well enough to come try and find a match, and after some browsing on your site, I think this one is a common whitetail female. They are so pretty and they usually have no shame when it comes to saying hi to us.
Jere
South-east MI

Common Whitetail:  Teneral Male

Common Whitetail: Teneral Male

Hi Jere,
You are correct about this being a Common Whitetail, Plathemis lydia, but it is not a female.  It is a teneral male.  According to the University of Florida Dragonflies and Damselflies web page: “When naiads are ready for their final molt they leave the water and crawl onto the bank or vegetation where they will molt into adults. Much like a caterpillar emerging from a chrysalis, they will need to pump up their wings and allow their bodies to harden before they can be effective fliers. A newly emerged odonate is teneral (soft). A teneral dragonfly has glossy wings and the colors on the body are often pale. Several days after emmerging hardened completely and will have taken on the colors of an adult dragonfly.
According to BugGuide on the Common Whitetail information page:  “Immature males have the same body pattern as females but the same wing pattern as mature males.” BugGuide has excellent photos illustrating the differences between male and female Common Whitetails.  Your letter contains some fascinating dragonfly behavior observations.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination