Courtesy the good folks at bugguide.net, I can confidently state that this is not only a Bar-winged skimmer, Libellula axilena, but also a female Bar-winged skimmer! Hooray for confident identifications! The issue here, for me, was that immature males and females are both very similar in appearance. No doubt, the trained Odonate Masters of the World can tell the difference by basic anatomical distinctions… but I’m not one of those Odonate Masters. Not yet, anyhow. I hope to someday attain the status of Possible Padawan of Odonates. Maybe.
In our last post, we saw a male Bar-winged skimmer. If you flip back to that post, you’ll see a huge difference between these two dragonflies. Major color differences. Alas, sexual dimorphism such as this are quite common in the insect world. The differences can indeed be quite dramatic, though you may notice the awesomely cartoonish wolf’s head on the side of both individuals. According to Giff Beaton’s Dragonflies & Damselflies of Georgia and the Southeast, the cartoon wolf’s head generally has pointier ears on Bar-winged skimmer than on the similar Slaty skimmer (Libellula incesta). This is one of the reasons I earlier identified this individual as a female Slaty and not a Bar-winged skimmer (I haven’t yet verified that identification, btw). Anyhow, check out this photo and see if you can find the pointy-eared wolf’s head:
Cool, right? Way cool.
Now, the following photograph is actually of a different individual than all the other photos. Again, I think this is a Bar-winged skimmer and not a Slaty skimmer. Note the ears on the wolf’s head, as well as the darkish face with white around the sides. Now, whether or not this is a female or an immature male, I’m not entirely sure. It did seem rather large to be an immature male, though. I may upload it later to bugguide and bug them some more –in a few days– to confirm one way or the other. What do you think:
So, yeah. Busy week on the dragonfly front. I do have a couple more posts following this one — a few more dragonfly action bits yet to come. Then we’re going to move on forward and start checking out some other stuff. It is, after all, cicada season — and my beloved Tibicen auletes have started showing up! Rah!
Next on Dust Tracks: Yup. More dragonflies. A few more, then we’ll move on.