Libellula pulchella
(Twelve-Spotted Skimmer)

Order: Odonata
Suborder: Anisoptera
Order Description:
Family: Libellulidae
Family Description: Skimmer

   Naiad- This is a medium to large naiad with a length of 15/16 to 1 1/16 inches (24 to 27 mm). It is dark orange-brown in color, and the abdomen is rounded, giving it a short, stocky appearance known as the sprawler form. There is a small hook on the top of abdominal segments four through seven, and there is a thin, slightly curved, rear-facing spine on each side of abdominal segment eight and nine.
   Adult- This is a fairly large dragonfly with a length of 2 to 2 ╝ inches (50 to 57 mm). Each wing is marked with three dark spots: one near the base where it attaches to the body, one in the center than nearly spans the width of the wing, and one at the tip. Females and immature males are brownish black. The side of the thorax is marked with two diagonal yellow stripes, and each side of the abdomen is lined with yellow. Mature males are brownish black, faintly marked with yellow, and become pruinose blue on the top of the abdomen. They may also develop a whitish patch on each wing to the outside of the spot next to the body.

This species is found from British Columbia east to Nova Scotia, extending south through most of the U.S., from California east to Florida. It is absent from very dry areas. In Idaho, it occurs throughout most of the state except for the driest portions of the southwest.

This dragonfly occurs near lakes, ponds and marshes, particularly those with exposed shorelines.

Adult Flight Season:
Early June to late August

   Naiad- Naiads feed on a wide variety of aquatic insects, such as mosquito larvae, other aquatic fly larvae, mayfly larvae, and freshwater shrimp. They will also eat small fish and tadpoles.
   Adult- The dragonfly will eat almost any soft-bodied flying insect including mosquitoes, flies, butterflies, moths, mayflies, and flying ants or termites.

Naiads live in the debris on the bottom of lakes, ponds, and marshes. They do not actively pursue prey but wait for it to pass by, a strategy which affords them protection from other predators. Naiads emerge as adults at night. Adults generally fly from early June through August. Hunting occurs from perches on twigs or rocks.

Males establish and defend territories, and are very aggressive towards members of their own species as well as other dragonflies. After males and females mate, the female flies singly, without the male attached, to lay her eggs. She does this by dipping the tip of her abdomen in the shallows of the body of water while hovering just above the water's surface.

Populations are widespread, abundant, and secure.
Status: Unprotected nongame species
Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S?

Corbet, P. S. 1999. Dragonflies: Behavior and Ecology of Odonata. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York, USA, 829pp.

Logan, E. R. 1967. The Odonata of Idaho. Unpublished M. S. thesis. University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho, USA, 105 pp.

Needham, J. G. and M. J. Westfall. 1955. Dragonflies of North America. University of California Press, Berkely, California, USA, 615 pp.

Paulson, D. R. 1999. Dragonflies of Washington. Seattle Audubon Society, Seattle, Washington, USA, 32 pp.

Walker, E. M. and P. S. Corbet. 1975. The Odonata of Canada and Alaska, Vol. III. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 307 pp.

Written by Mark Lung and Stefan Sommer, 2001
Photos by Dennis Paulson, 2001
Design by Ean Harker, 2001.