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Twelve-spotted Skimmer (Libellula pulchella)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Twelve-spotted Skimmer.

 Updated: 8/23/2019; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.InsectIdentification.org




Males of this summertime dragonfly sports a plethora of brown-black and white spots on its glassy wings.



If given time to count, one would see a total of twelve black spots on all four wings of the male; three on each one. Between these black spots sit eight bright white spots that may even appear light blue. White smudges also appear next to the body. The female and immature males have the twelve brown-black spots, but not the white ones, so it is still acceptable to call them all twelve-spotted. Males have a powdery blue abdomen or 'tail'. The female tail is mostly black with a long yellow stripe on each side. Adults feed on small flying insects.

Like other skimmers, the Twelve-spotted Skimmer is usually found near sources of water. Females lay eggs in ponds, lakes, or slow-moving streams and rivers where they hatch into naiads. The young naiads look more like crustaceans than dragonflies and spend this early life stage underwater. After feeding and growing, naiads eventually crawl out of the water and molt into winged adults.

This species is common across all three countries on the North American continent. They are active mostly in the summer and are fast fliers. Look for these large, robust skimmers near the water's edge by lagoons, creeks, ponds, and lakes.
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Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Odonata
        Family: Libellulidae
          Genus: Libellula
            Species: pulchella
Identifying Information
Scientific Name: Libellula pulchella
Other Name(s): Ten-spot Skimmer, Ten-spot Dragonfly
Category: Dragonfly or Damselfly
Size (Adult; Length): 48mm to 53mm (1.87in to 2.07in)
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black, white, blue, orange, brown
Descriptors: six black, six white, spots, brown, blue tail, flying, dragonfly, twelve, ten
Territorial Map
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
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Territorial Reach (A-to-Z)
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
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Alberta
British Columbia
Manitoba
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia
Ontario
Prince Edward Island
Quebec
Saskatchewan
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Mexico
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.