Sunday, June 28, 2020

Banded Skimmers

A few days of sunshine and 80 degree temperatures brought out a myriad of dragonflies. We found two females on 23 June 2020 at the Darlin Creek Preserve south of Olympia. The first is an Eight-spotted Skimmer, a common species of western North America from southern Canada to the Mexican border. Males sport bright white wing marks around their black patches. The second species looks quite similar. Note that this next dragonfly has black wingtips, a field mark of a female Common Whitetail. Males have much larger, black wing bands and develop white abdomens.
Twelve-spotted Skimmers are found across all of the United States except Florida and northwestern Washington. Records exist in the Vancouver/Portland area and up the Columbia River Valley. These dragonflies are even found in parts of southern Canada, so they should be found in the Seattle/Olympia area too. I will keep my eyes open. Males have white spots in their wings alternating with the black bands. As you can see in this final photo, female Twelve-spotted Skimmers are quite similar to female Common Whitetails. Note that the whitetail’s abdomen have yellow spots along their sides, while Twelve-spots sport almost unbroken yellow abdomen stripes. I took the Twelve-spotted photograph on 13 June 2016  in Dakota County, Minnesota.

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