Orthemis ferruginea

Common Name:
Roseate Skimmer
O. ferruginea
The Name
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.)


The Characteristics
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 brown.

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.


The Distribution
The Roseate Skimmer is widespread in North America in the United States, Central America as far south as Chile. 


The Protection Status
Common and abundant.

The Species on Stamps





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