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Flame skimmer

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Flame skimmer
Libellula saturata.jpg
Scientific Classification
Binomial Name

Libellula saturata

A Libellula saturata up close
Libellua saturata up close.jpg

The Flame Skimmer Dragonfly is a marvelous species of dragonfly known by the scientific name Libellula saturata. They have bright colors to display, along with their simple designs, making them truly amazing. Their naiad form is different then most dragonflies, but they still grow up to be fast, ordinary dragonflies. This dragonfly looks like a little flame as its bright orange coat rushes by.

Anatomy

Female flame skimmer

Flame Skimmer naiads (nymphs) can grow up to about an inch long, whereas adults are typically between two and two and a half inches long. The naiads have lots of hair, but have no hooks or spines on them unlike most dragonfly naiads. Male Flame Skimmers are usually entirely red or orange, including their eyes and wing vanes and have a brown stripe on the basal quarter of each wing. Females however, are typically a darker orange or brown color, with yellow stripes on them. The flame skimmer can be easily confused with the meadowhawk dragonfly, because the meadowhawk is the same color. Flame skimmers however, are slightly larger, and have no spots on their thorax. (Flame Skimmer Info) There are three main parts to all insects: the head, thorax, and abdomen. There are a pair of antennae located on the anterior side, attached to the head of the dragonfly, that are for sensing air currents, and help in flight control. The head is also located on the anterior of the dragonfly, and connects to the thorax. The thorax is located behind the head as a mid-section, and is sometimes used for flight control. On both sides of the dragonfly between the head and the thorax, you will find the forewings, which gift the insect with the ability of flight. Slightly below the thorax on both sides of the dragonfly are a pair of hind wings also used for flight. The abdomen is located on the posterior of the dragonfly, and is connected to the thorax. Most of the dragonfly's digestive and reproductive organs are located inside the abdomen. The flame skimmer also has a set of six legs on its body.(Dragonfly Anatomy)

Reproduction

Flame skimmers mating

The flame skimmer dragonfly reproduces sexually. Mating season is usually from May to September. First, the male dragonfly will fly off and find a decent breeding location, and then defend it from other males looking for a breeding location. After the male and female dragonfly mate, the females will go off by themselves and lay their eggs. They do this by hovering and touching the tip of their abdomen into a shallow pond. The female will often lay eggs in several spots due to naiads trying to eat each other for food. The naiads can live from months to years before they become adults. They accomplish this transformation by emerging from their old naiad skin (molting), changing into their adult form. The naiads only transform between the warm spring and summer seasons.Dragonfly Info

Ecology

Naiads live in the mud of warm, moist places such as hot springs, and some ponds in the southern part of the United States. They do not chase after prey, instead they hide, and wait for prey to pass by. This method is also used for protection, as predators would chase after them if they left their hiding spot. They usually hide behind twigs and rocks. A typical naiad's diet consists of mosquito larvae, small fish, tadpoles, aquatic fly larvae, and freshwater shrimp. Adult Flame Skimmers usually feed on moths, ants, flying ants, flies, termites, and other soft insects. They only like to fly if the weather is warm, usually, 65 degrees Celsius at the least. When it is very wet or cold, they will hide by plants and trees. Most dragonflies live as naiads underwater throughout the winter, but few might migrate south to a warmer location.

Location

Map of flame skimmer habitats in the USA.

Like most dragonflies, the flame skimmer loves warm climates. Anywhere where the weather is about 70 degrees or warmer is fine for them. They are usually located in the southern half of the United States, around southwestern Idaho, southern California, Wyoming, and other southern United States. You will find the naiads in ponds, streams, and other freshwater locations, and they can remain there for several years before becoming adults. You will usually find a large amount of naiads in ponds during the winter, as they only become adults in spring or summer, and they wont be very active due to the cold. Unfortunately the adults don't usually live through the winter months, so you will rarely see them around during this season.

References