Libellula pulchella

Common Name:
Twelve-spotted Skimmer, Ten-spot Skimmer
L. pulchella
Species Description
Libellula is a genus of dragonflies, commonly called Skimmers, in the family Libellulidae, distributed throughout the temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere. Most species are found in the United States, where they are the best-known large dragonflies, often seen flying over freshwater ponds in summer. Many have showy wing patterns. The taxa Ladona (Corporals) and Plathemis (Whitetails) have been considered as synonyms of Libellula, subgenera, or separate genera by different authorities. Recent phylogenetic analysis has supported their status as either subgenera or full genera. The genus contain 25 species.

Libellula pulchella (Drury, 1770), the Twelve-spotted Skimmer, is a common North American skimmer dragonfly, found in southern Canada and in all 48 of the contiguous U.S. states.

It is a large species, at length 48 - 53 mm, hindwing length 42 - 46 mm. Each wing has three brown spots. In adult males, additional white spots form between the brown ones and at the bases of the hindwings, and thus its name comes from; it is sometimes called the Ten-spot Skimmer for the number of these white spots. The abdomen of the male is white-blue or grey and has a powder-like appearance. The thorax is brown with two stripes on each side, which are grey above and yellow below. As it ages, the stripes on the thorax of the male become less distinctive.

The female is similar to the male in appearance but has a brown abdomen and thorax, with continuous yellow stripes along each side. Both the male and female also have white spots between the darker spots on the wings, which develop with age. The eyes of both sexes are red-brown. The juvenile is similar in appearance to the adult female

The flight season of the twelve-spotted skimmer, when the adults are active, varies throughout its range. Activity usually occurs between late March and November, but is most common between June and October. It is a highly territorial species, and the male defends its territory from other dragonfly species, as well as its own. Conflicts are usually won by the individual with the greatest flight agility, and the winner gains a better territory or succeeds in retaining its original territory. Disputes are usually between males over areas which are frequently visited by females.

Libellula pulchella is common across the United States, southern Canada and northern Mexico. Throughout this range it is absent from certain areas in the far south and south-western United States. There are not known to be any specific conservation measures currently in place for this species, and it is not yet to be classified by the IUCN.



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