Monday, June 26, 2017

Species Spotlight: Eight-spotted Skimmer

A couple days ago I went to Cranberry Lake and saw my first Eight-spotted Skimmer of the year. There was just one, but it was patrolling back and forth along the shoreline, sometimes chasing and sometimes being chased by a Four-spotted Skimmer.

A male Eight-spotted Skimmer. The dark area in the middle of the abdomen is where a female has rubbed off the pruinosity while grasping the male in the wheel position.

The Eight-spotted Skimmer is named for the eight black spots, not for the white spots. Only the male has the white wing spots, but both sexes have the black spots. Here are a couple more shots of males.

Here's a female. Notice that the wings are clear between the black spots.

Female Eight-spotted Skimmers look a lot like female Common Whitetails, but they differ in the side stripes on the abdomen. Eight-spotted Skimmers have straight side stripes that are yellow in color; Common Whitetails have white side stripes that curve inward at their forward ends.

The Eight-spotted Skimmer is a showy dragonfly, and can't be missed when it's on the wing. If you see one flying by, take a good look—you'll notice that it glides for extended periods of time, whereas most insects flap their wings constantly while in flight. You can often see Eight-spotted Skimmers rocking back and forth as they glide, almost like a soaring hawk.

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