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painted skimmer

painted skimmer (Libellula semifasciata) [female]
Photo © Mark Kluge

painted skimmer (Libellula semifasciata) [male]
Photo © Mark Kluge

Features and Behaviors

The painted skimmer is a charismatic, rusty-colored skimmer. They have a robust body about two inches long, reddish-brown eyes on a shiny, orange face, a brown thorax, and brown abdomen with a fine black line on yellow sides. Their wings are amber tinted with bright orange veins, and each wing has three brown markings: a narrow spot close to the body, a rectangular spot between at the front of the wing, and a complete brown band towards the tip of the wing. 

They can be seen perched on shoreline vegetation or flying close to the water (less than three feet above) near boggy ponds and ditches close to wooded areas. Mating happens in flight, and males guard females while they deposit their eggs. They do this by flying low across the water and tapping their abdomen on the water’s surface in several spots. The eggs hatch the following spring. In eastern states, they have been observed to migrate to more suitable habitats for reproducing and depositing eggs during drought years.

llinois Range


​Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Odonata
Family: Libellulidae

Illinois Status: common, native