Dragonfly: Female Skimmer, but which species???

Subject: Needham’s Skimmer or Golden-Winged Skimmer?
Location: Jupiter, Florida
April 5, 2016 11:09 am
Greetings from Palm Beach County, Florida. This female dragonfly stopped to watch my volunteers remove trash from Pine Glades Natural Area in Jupiter, Florida. Since she didn’t seem to mind the group of people picking up beer bottles and plastic bags from around her perch, I snapped a few photos. Once I downloaded the pictures I was amazed by the beauty of this insect! In trying to nail down a name for this bug, I found two possible choices: Needham’s Skimmer or Golden-Winged Skimmer. I’m hoping you can tell me which one she is. As always, your web site is outstanding – I use it just about every day.
Signature: Ann Mathews – Palm Beach County Environmental Resources Management

Female Skimmer
Female Skimmer

Hi Ann,
Thanks so much for the compliment.  Your image is positively gorgeous, but we often have difficulty with Dragonfly identifications, especially female Dragonflies.  The Needham’s Skimmer,
Libellula needhami, pictured on BugGuide looks like a good match, and the Golden Winged Skimmer, Libellula auripennis, pictured on BugGuide also looks close.  Perhaps one of our readers with more experience identifying Dragonflies will be able to provide a conclusive ID with justification.  According to BugGuide, the Golden Winged Skimmer is “Very similar, if not indistinguishable in the field, from Needham’s Skimmer. The latter is restricted to the coastal southeastern United States. ”  Of Needhams’s Skimmer, BugGuide remarks:  “Males are best separated from male Golden-Wings by redder face and body, along with brown lower hindlegs and less orange wings. Female and juvenile male Needham’s best separated from Golden-Wings by lateral thoracic pattern, augmented by the two-toned costa.”

Thanks for posting my picture of the Needham’s or Golden Winged skimmer. I hope someone can nail down her identity. Then again, she might like to remain mysterious and keep some secrets to herself! As always, kudos to the team at What’s That Bug for bringing the fascinating world of bugs to people all over the world.
Ann Mathews

Leave a Comment