Flame Skimmer, Libellula saturate

The flame skimmer (Libellula saturate), also known as the firecracker skimmer, is a species of dragonfly that can be found in western areas of North America. It prefers to reside in warm areas near hot springs, ponds, and streams, but it can be seen backyards and public gardens. This species varies in size, but typically reaches a body length between two and three inches. Males are completely dark orange or red in color, the trait from which the species received its common name, while females are duller in color and can hold yellow markings. Nymphs of this species are hairy and can be described as chubby.

The flame skimmer can be seen between the months of May to September, during which time males will fight for favorable territories and females to breed with. After breeding, females will fly alone to still ponds and other water sources, dipping the tip of her abdomen into different areas of the water. This prevents cannibalism between naiads, or nymphs, which feed on other aquatic larvae and small freshwater shrimp, fish, and tadpoles. Adults will catch small flying insects while in flight or while resting on twigs and rocks.

Image Caption: Libellula saturata. Credit: Regular Daddy/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)