To accommodate construction, Shaver's Creek Environmental Center will be closed Tuesday, May 28, through Thursday, May 30.

Spotting Showy Skimmers

Pondhawk (female)

As we move ever faster towards the dog days of summer, unexpected beauty is beginning to crowd the air above the water at Shaver’s Creek. Yes, Dragonfly flight season is in full swing and some of the largest and showiest of our species are beginning to emerge in search of mates—and their mosquito prey. I am talking about the Libellulidae family, more commonly referred to as the skimmers.

The largest of all the dragonfly families, skimmers come in a wide variety of sizes, and are well-known for their colorful patterns and conspicuous nature. Adult males are often the easiest to spot and identify, but be careful: female and male skimmers are dimorphic, meaning they appear different from one another. Adding to the challenge of identification is the fact that in most species, the males change as they mature. Luckily for the casual naturalist, skimmers tend to perch and fly conspicuously, offering plenty of opportunities for photographs and observation.

L-Widow Skimmer M-some kinda Clubtail R-Common Whitetail (all 3 males) SM
L to R: Window Skimmer, Clubtail, Common Whitetail (all male)

Three of our most common species of skimmers, the Common Whitetail, the Twelve-Spotted Skimmer, and the Window Skimmer are in flight right now around Shaver’s Creek. These species have distinctive bold wing markings, often perch and patrol in plain sight, and are fairly approachable. All of these factors make them great specimens for observation and photography. All three can be found along the boardwalk trail here at Shaver’s Creek, and Twelve-Spotted Skimmers have been seen laying eggs in the frog pond! So come on out to Shaver’s Creek and enjoy one of summer’s greatest shows.