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Slaty Skimmer (Libellula incesta)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Slaty Skimmer

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Image Credit: Julio Guerrero Photography
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Image Credit: Rudy P. taken in Duke Gardens, Durham, NC
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Slaty Skimmers are dragonflies that find themselves at home in virtually any type of habitat, which means they are observed more often than their specialized relatives.

Updated: 01/05/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Slaty Skimmers vary in appearance by gender. Males are a powdery light blue, and juvenile females are a dark brown/black with wide yellow bands along the length of the abdomen. As females mature, they also become blue. Females mate with males near water and flick their fertilized eggs near the banks, or edges, of the water. Larvae (called naiads) remain underwater, feeding on aquatic insects. They look like mini crustaceans in this life stage. When ready, they crawl onto land, molt and become winged adults.

Slaty Skimmers can easily be mistaken for Bar-Winged, Great Blue, and Gray-waisted Skimmers. Bar-winged Skimmers have more dark lines at the front edge of their wings. Great Blue Skimmers have darker spots at the nodus (middle) of the forewings and bright, white faces. Gray-waisted Skimmers have narrower hindwings. Slaty Skimmers are comfortable in most environments, so they are common across the entire continent. Other members of the Libellula genus prefer niche habitats and are less commonly observed. Look for Slaty Skimmers around any water source: springs, creeks, swamps, marshes, lagoons, etc. Flooded areas are also good conditions for temporarily expanded territories. Look for them throughout the summer months in sunny areas.


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General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
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Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Odonata
        Family: Libellulidae
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          Genus: Libellula
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            Species: incesta
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Libellula incesta
Category: Dragonfly or Damselfly
Size (Adult; Length): 45mm to 57mm (1.77" to 2.24")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: blue; black; yellow; brown; ivory
Descriptors: blue; powdery; dusty; bands; spots; flying; helpful

Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 45mm (1.8in) and 57mm (2.2in)
Lo: 45mm
Md: 51mm
Hi: 57mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Slaty Skimmer may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Slaty Skimmer. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.


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