Dragonfly Summer: Widow Skimmer

As I was tending my veggies I had a feeling I was being watched.

Libellula luctuosa
Libellula luctuosa, playng peek-a-boo

I think the endless rain is creating a dragonfly paradise.

There is only one dragonfly that has black wing bands that touch the body: the widow skimmer. The common name describes this dragonfly’s unusual mating behaviour. Once the female lays her eggs experts say the male will abandon or ‘widow’ her. Other dragonflies typically remain partners.

Males have blue bodies; females and juveniles are golden. I love her happy chocolate face. Entomologists take note: does this girl look like she is grieving? Maybe she wasn’t abandoned. Maybe she kicked his good-for-nothing butt to the curb ….

female Libellula luctuosa
female (or juvenile) Libellula luctuosa

36 thoughts on “Dragonfly Summer: Widow Skimmer

  1. I have several of these beauties in my garden near the pond but did not know about the different colored bodies….love it! Thanks for the info!


  2. Lovely photo and what a beautiful dragon fly. I haven’ t seen these here, but I got a nice shot of a Fou- spotted Chaser today. I don’ t know whether their husbands stay around.


  3. Wow, I’m so glad I found your blog! Your photos are amazing. I love dragonflies and damselflies, as well. We have many of them here in Madison, probably because of the lakes, but also up at our cottage, which is actually on a lake. They’re so fascinating to watch with all their acrobatic ability. Again, amazing photos and a great blog!


    1. Acrobatic is the word! I love watching how the skimmers can fly right along the top of the water. Thanks for your kind words. I can totally imagine Madison as the dragonfly capital of the world.


    1. I had read once that they could be gigantic because of an oxygen rich atmosphere — like 300 million years ago. But even those dragonflies would find take off a struggle if they tried to carry off my obese cat! hahaha (and you did not hear that, Pyewackett, great princess of the world, master of all known universes and all round best-est cat ever). But you’ve left me wondering … does an increase in CO2 mean less oxygen?


        1. I have to wonder about the idea that a decrease in oxygen not having an impact. Combine a decrease in oxygen with air pollution and I think those with respiratory issues might struggle. Plus, I once had an aquarium. Any small change in the chemistry had a big effect (sometimes not anticipated) on the whole system.


  4. Gorgeous!

    There must be 50 ways, to leave your skimmer. I’ve seen one darting around the back yard, never could get a decent shot of it so don’t know what the body color was, but am pretty clear the color segments aligned to be one of these widow types. And I’d agree – it is impossible to know who ditched who, but that lady doesn’t look a bit lonely to me!


  5. Very nice photos and fun presentation of info. The peek-a-boo is even better when click on to see a large image.


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