Other Flying Objects: Widow Skimmer

By josh • Nature, Wildlife • 23 Jul 2013

Widow Skimmers are large, common dragonflies of the genus Libellula (King Skimmers), which also includes other familiar and distinctive species such as Four-Spotted Skimmers and Twelve-Spotted Skimmers.  The wing pattern is distinctive, though in flight they can resemble other large dragonflies.

I found this female in an unmowed meadow between the Catholic Center and the Athletic Campus at the University of Vermont.  This meadow has a variety of native (milkweeds) and introduced (white sweet-clover) plant species that are particularly attractive to insects this time of year, so it’s alive with bees, wasps, butterflies and moths, and a variety of other bugs.  It’s quite far from the nearest water source, so these skimmers are not in breeding mode.

Widow Skimmer (female)

Widow Skimmer (female)
University Heights, Burlington, Vermont
July, 2013
Tamron AF18–250mm f/3.5–6.3 AF Di II at 200mm, f/7.1, 1/250s, ISO250

Just north of the Catholic Center there’s a spot that always seems to have a number of large dragonflies about.  While they may be widow skimmers, I think it’s more likely that they are black saddlebags.  It’s a difficult ID in flight, and they never seem to come down to ground level.

As with most dragonflies, I seem to have a harder time getting males to cooperate for photos.  Here’s a male widow skimmer- not a great shot, but the only one I have of this sex and species:

Widow Skimmer (male)
Otter View Park, Middlebury, Vermont
July, 2008
Tamron AF18–250mm f/3.5–6.3 AF Di II at 250mm, f/6.3, 1/160s, ISO100


University Heights

Otter View Park

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