Dragonflies: the Widow Skimmer

One of my favorite summer activities is observing and photographing the colorful summer fliers – butterflies, moths, dragonflies and damselflies. The process of obtaining a good photograph of one of these insects is satisfying and educational: much of what I’ve learned about photographing wildlife and nature came from this quest, experimenting with aperture, speed, focal length, shooting angles, etc., in pursuit of dynamic subjects in ever-changing background settings.

WidowSkimmer23June13#022E

Widow Skimmer, female or immature male

 

One group of dragonflies is particularly photogenic: the skimmers. Several species are large, colorful, very common and tend to forage in fields, forest edges and clearings, far from their wetland habitats. Consequently, I usually have close encounters with them while hiking and have ample opportunities to photograph.

In this post I’ll feature the Widow Skimmer (Libellula luctuosa), a species that can be found over much of the U.S.and into southern Canada.

WidowSkimmerFemale23June13#038E

Widow Skimmer, female or immature male

WidowSkimmerFemale23June13#027E

Widow Skimmer

WidowSkimmer5July12#102E

Widow Skimmer, female or immature male

WidowSkimmer5July12#057E

Widow Skimmer, male

WidowSkimmer5July12#066E

Widow Skimmer, male

The skimmers, like other dragonflies and damselflies, are powerful, highly maneuverable fliers and voracious predators. They consume huge quantities of flying insects such as gnats, flies and mosquitoes, and are therefore more than just a “pretty face”!

Photos by NB Hunter. ©  All Rights Reserved.

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