When out hiking last weekend, I collected photos of three dragonflies that we saw along the way, all close to water. All three are members of the Skimmer family, a colourful and diverse group of dragonflies comprising about 100 species. One of the very easiest to identify is the Twelve-spotted Skimmer (Libellula pulchella). This male’s distinctive wing pattern makes the source of its name obvious. Each of the four wings have three dark patches at the base, midpoint and tip, with white patches in between. Females are similar but lack the white patches. These large dragonflies may be seen along shorelines, perched on vegetation or patrolling their territory over the water. You may also come upon Twelve-spotted dragonflies in upland fields and clearings.
The dragonfly above is a Halloween Pennant (Celithemis eponina). Its brown and orange wings give this medium-sized odonate a butterfly-like appearance. Like other skimmers, it is a percher. That is, it tends to spend a lot of time perched, making brief flights before landing again, an attribute appreciated by photographers! Dragonflies in some other families, such as darners, are fliers, and spend most of their time on the wing.
The pretty dragonfly below is a Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis). Blue Dashers may be found in a wide range of habitat, but are partial to well-vegetated ponds. What stunning eyes! Like the other two skimmers featured here, this small to medium-sized dragonfly is a summer flier.