Other Flying Objects: Twelve-Spotted Skimmer

By josh • Nature, Wildlife • 25 Jul 2013

Sticking with the skimmer theme, the poorly-named Twelve-Spotted Skimmer is another of the King Skimmers genus (Libellula).  They’re fairly common even away from the water this time of year in our area, and I was able to photograph two males at different points of maturity within the last week.

I say they’re poorly named because the males (and at least some of the females) have twenty wing spots each- 12 black and 8 white.  Most of the females don’t have the white spots on their wings though, so I suppose “Twelve-Spotted Skimmer” is generally inclusive and certainly less clunky than “Frequently-Twenty-Spotted-but-Sometimes-Only-Twelve-Spotted Skimmer”.

Here’s the older adult with a pruinose abdomen, seen on my family’s farm in Benson, Vermont:

Twelve-Spotted Skimmer

Twelve-Spotted Skimmer
Benson, Vermont
July, 2013
Canon 400mm f/5.6L at f/10, 1/500s, ISO 250

You can just see the bright yellow abdominal stripes (consistent over each segment) peeking through the pruinosity in the above photo.

Here’s a “fresher” male (note the abdominal bulge signifying his secondary genitalia on the segment behind the hindwing) looking much like a female, but with appropriate reproductive structures and white wing spots.

Twelve-Spotted Skimmer

Twelve-Spotted Skimmer
University Heights, Burlington, Vermont
July, 2013
Tamron AF18–250mm f/3.5–6.3 AF Di II at 200mm, f/7.1, 1/320s, ISO250

This guy was hanging on in a pretty strong gust of wind, which explains his odd posture.  It also made him difficult to photograph, but I’m reasonably happy with this one given the conditions.

Phillips Farm, Benson

University Heights, Burlington

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