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?
East of Wichita, Kansas
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.