|Orthemis ferruginea (Fab., 1775),
the Roseate Skimmer, is a common southern dragonfly. Ferrugineus is Latin
for "rusty". This is a strong-flying species, a typical "big skimmer."
The males are unmistakeable and breathtaking--a
streak of purple or rosy-pink. The females resemble female Neon Skimmers
in their coloration and use the same egg-laying technique (flicking eggs
in water droplets towards the shore or emergent vegetation.)
|Total length: 46-55 mm; abdomen:
33-39 mm; hindwing: 35-44 mm.
The male of the species has a rose
pink and red/maroon colored abdomen, with a metallic purple face and dark
purple-red eyes. Females of the species have orange-brown abdomens with
clear orangish veins and a brownish thorax with a light stripe down back.
yellow-to-golden brown. In flight, depending on the angle of light, they
can look pink or magenta or purple. The young have a bright pinkish or
purple abdomen and when they are mature adults their thorax will develop
a pale bluish tint.
The wings are normally clear except
for the narrow brown tips at the edges. The juveniles are brown initially
in both sexes with pale stripes as well as the abdomen being uniformly
Habitat in ponds and quiet water,
both permanent and temporary rain pools, stock tanks, etc. In central Texas
of USA, these dragonflies seem to prefer water where they do not have to
compete with Neon Skimmers (more aggressive in defending territory.) They
will mate and lay eggs in even small pools (bathtub size) if there is vegetation
nearby or overhanging, strong enough to perch on. Males guard water from
vegatation near it, and patrol vigorously (but do not seem to compete well
with Neon Skimmers), but Neons prefer shaded running water, so they often
choose different areas anyway.
This is a widespread species that
seems to invade new habitats and is capabale of readily expanding its range.
It is found throughout the New World tropics, including the Bahamas, West
Indies and Hawaii. It behaves similarly to many king skimmers (Libellula),
foraging from the top of tall vegetation. It is an aggressive predator
taking insects only slightly smaller than itself. Males will regularly
and vigorously patrol territories averaging 10 m. Males use their abdomens
to ward off intruding males by bending the tip downwards. They pursue females
in flight, where mating takes place for an avera ge of 10 sec. Oviposition
by females takes an average of 1-3 minutes and is done by flicking the
eggs along with water droplets towards the shoreline. The male guards the
female during this time, often hovering close to her and bending the abdomen
down, almost at a right angle, when numerous competing males are present.
Nymphs are found in the silty bottoms of shallow streams that feed larger
rivers and sinkholes especially in the state parks with lakes.
Flight in late summer through fall.
Roseates fly in midday when some other species are not flying.