Libellula saturata
(Flame Skimmer)

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

   Naiad- This is a fairly large naiad, with a maximum length of 1 1/8 inches (28 mm). The abdomen is rounded, giving it a short, stocky appearance known as the sprawler form. It is covered with hairs, but has no hooks or spines as do many other naiads.
   Adult- This is a large dragonfly with a length of 2 1/16 to 2 7/16 inches (52 to 61 mm). It is entirely red, including the legs and wing veins.

This species is found from southwestern Idaho west and south to southern California, throughout the southwestern U.S., and east to Wyoming. In Idaho, it is found in the southwestern part of the state.

This dragonfly occurs near warm water ponds, warm, slow streams, and hot springs. In the northern part of its range, it almost always occurs near hot springs. Specifically in Idaho, it occurs in low elevation desert in the southwest, and at hot springs in the central and southeast portions of the state.

Adult Flight Season:
Mid-May to early September

   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.

The naiads live in mud on the bottom of warm ponds, streams, and springs. 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 mid-May to early September. Hunting occurs from perches on twigs and rocks. This dragonfly is very common in the southwestern U.S., and around the Firehole River in Yellowstone National Park because of the hot springs.

Males establish and defend territories at prime breeding locations. 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 springs and ponds 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 Forrest Mitchell, © 1999.
Design by Ean Harker, 2001.