What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Red Veined Darter
Location: Baldwin county Alabama
August 12, 2011 11:35 pm
I didn’t see a picture of a Red Veined Darter when looking through your dragonflies ( I didn’t go through them all, I admit) So I thought I would send this amazing picture my wife took with her iphone when it landed on mine.
Signature: South Alabama bug dude

Alleged Red Veined Darter is Needham's Skimmer

Dear South Alabama bug dude,
We hope your wife knows that you submitted her amazing photo to our website.  We recently grappled with a copyright situation because a photo from the Pennsylvania Wild website was submitted to us for identification purposes without the knowledge of the photo’s originator.  Once a digital photo enters the blogosphere, anything can happen.  Things go viral and there is internet piracy.  Imagery can be transformed and used for advertising purposes.  We cannot help but to wonder if in the very near future we will be teaching photography with a cellular telephone because the cameras are getting better and better and Apple is putting so many features onto the telephone that have nothing to do with making telephone calls.  We have concerns because your wife is obviously a creative individual and she has used a panoramic format and vignetting to add originality to her image.  We cannot say for certain that this is a Red Veined Darter.  We find Dragonfly identifications most challenging.  We are also going to include a cropped and flipped version of the Dragonfly with adjusted levels so that the identifying features of this Dragonfly are less obfuscated.  We cannot link to the Red Veined Darter on BugGuide because it is not represented there, and in our opinion, BugGuide is the best place to identify insects and spiders found in the United States and Canada.  A web search for Red Veined Darter produced a hit to a Dragonfly Site and a scientific name 
Sympetrum fonscolombii.  A web search of Sympetrum fonscolombii produced a hit to a UK site that lists it as a vagrant, but notes:  “”In Britain this species has been seen annually since 1995. Most have been migrants but breeding has been noted in a number of sites from Cornwall to Yorkshire.”  We believe you have not correctly identified your Dragonfly.  The not so credible Wikipedia has many photos of the Red Veined Darter, and none look like your Dragonfly.
We have now taken up a considerable portion of our allotted time this morning for responding to the web browsing public’s questions on what has become a non-identification.   We promised Elizabeth that we would write her a letter of recommendation  for the U.S. Student Fulbright Program so that she can do a photography project in Russia.  Also the fifteen year old Chinese elm bonsaii grove we have nurtured from seedlings has some species of Scale Insect that are being tended by the dreaded Argentine Ants and we really need to take a toothbrush to it and repot it.  We also need to work on a presentation to the Greater Cypress Park Neighborhood Council to request funding to help control the Tree of Heaven population in Elyria Canyon Park.  Sometimes our editorial staff has obligations (or recreational desires) that have nothing to do with the web browsing public’s insect identification questions and today, those things need to be a priority.

Alleged Red Veined Darter is Needham's Skimmer


What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination
Location: Alabama

4 Responses to Alleged Red Veined Darter is Needham's Skimmer

  1. RenaudB says:


    Apart from its range (I don’t think the Red Veined Darter (S. foscolombii has ever reached Americas) I could put you into sleep with listing the features that set apart the Red-Weined Darter (S. fonscolombii) to this one 🙂
    So let say we have narrowed it down to the Skimmers (genus Libellula), a male.
    You have two look alike species over there: Golden-Winged Skimmer and Needham’s Skimmer. Among differences is that the G-W Skimmer is more orange overall then red when mature and about all veins are orange in color. So Needham’s is reddish however that color is restricted to the veins of the leading edge. The other veins are darker.
    So I do believe it is a male Needham’s Skimmer (Libellula Needhami).

    Renaud Bernhard

    • bugman says:

      Dear Renaud,
      Thanks ever so much for providing a proper identification. Our response veered away from even attempting an identification and your expertise is greatly appreciated.

  2. EmStowe says:

    My name is Emily and I am the one who took the picture of this dragonfly. It was amazing as I have not ever seen a red dragonfly before. There were 9 people standing around and the dragonfly would land on us and our phones as you can see. When someone would move it would fly away for a second then fly right back to us. It was so cool. Thanks for posting the picture, I appreciate it and yes I did give my husband permission to send it to you.

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