Minnesota Dragonfly

Four-spotted Skimmer

Libellula quadrimaculata

The four-spotted skimmer is an amber to brown colored dragonfly that is commonly found throughout most of Minnesota. They get their name from the two spots they have on each wing, a black spot at the nodus and a black stigma. With both wings this gives them four spots

Identification

Field Marks
  • Average adult size is approximately 1.7 inches
  • Eyes reddish brown above and green below
  • Tan face, often with some white or yellow portions
  • Thorax yellow-brown and hairy on top
  • Thorax has yellow and black irregular pattern on the side
  • Abdomen yellow-brown in color with bright yellow stripes running along outer edges to segment 8
  • Abdomen segments 5 and 6 partially black on top and segments 7 through 10 completely black on top
  • Anterior wing veins orange or yellow with black nodal spot and black stigma
  • Black patch at base of hind wings
  • As they age four-spotted skimmers lose color and become more of a dull matte brown color

Click on photos above for a close-up view.

Field Marks
  • One of the few species of skimmers that are not sexually dimorphic
  • Females are indistinguishable from males except for reproductive parts
  • Small subgenital plates

Click on photos above for a close-up view.

Natural History

Behavior

Often found perched near water on vegetation well above the water line. Will also occasionally perch on the ground. Males are highly territorial and often guard from a perch where they can fly out to chase away any rivals or catch prey, including smaller dragonflies.

Habitat

Lakes, ponds, boggy wetlands, marshes and slow streams. They prefer more acidic waters.

Reproduction

Mating takes place in flight. Females lay eggs by dipping their abdomen into the water. Clutches can contain up to 3000 eggs. Males often hover guard while females lay eggs.

Range Maps

Click on the icons above for this species' range maps

Click here for county and state checklists from Odonata Central.

Range maps and checklists courtesy of Odonata Central. Copyright © 2016 OdonataCentral. All Rights Reserved. Abbott, J.C. 2006-2018. OdonataCentral: An online resource for the distribution and identification of Odonata. Available at www.odonatacentral.org.