Minnesota Dragonfly

Twelve-spotted Skimmer

Libellula pulchella

Male twelve-spotted skimmers are easily recognizable even from a distance, due to heir large size and striking wing pattern. Males have brown and bluish gray bodies with alternating black and white spots on their wings. Females are less colorful with brown and yellow bodies and black spots on their wings.


Field Marks
  • Average adult size is approximately 2.0 inches
  • Brown eyes and face
  • Brown thorax with two thoracic stripes
  • Thoracic stripes are yellow in immature skimmers and are covered with gray-white pruinose with age
  • Abdomen brown and yellow striped covered by blue-gray pruinose in mature males
  • Brown and yellow abdominal pattern often partially still visible though the pruinose
  • Wings have 3 black spots on each (base, nodus, tip) with two white pruinose spots in between
  • Immature males look very similar to females

Click on photos above for a close-up view.

Field Marks
  • Eyes reddish-brown
  • Face yellow and brown
  • Brown thorax with two yellow thoracic strips
  • Brown abdomen with two continuous yellow stripes running on outside edges on top
  • Three black spots on each wing (base, nodus, tip)

Click on photos above for a close-up view.

Similar Species

  • Common Whitetail
  • Males look different but females look similar
  • The Twelve-spotted Skimmer is larger, averaging around 2 inches, compared to the Common Whitetail, averaging around 1.7 inches
  • Abdominal topspots are continuous and form two straight lines on the twelve-spotted Skimmer female, they are diagonal and form a zig zag line on the Common Whitetail female
  • Prince Baskettail
  • Both species and large, dark and have similar wing patches
  • The Prince Baskettail is much larger than the Twelve-spotted Skimmer
  • Twelve-spotted skimmers typically have thoracic stripes where Prince Baskettail do not
  • Click on the photo to see side by side comparisons
  • Click on the photo to see side by side comparisons

Natural History


Males often patrol a territory along a shoreline. Will chase any type of dragonfly from their territory. Flight is typically a combination of hovering and darting. Will also perch pennant style on a branch or stick near the water.


Ponds and lakes with emergent vegetation. Also slow streams and occasionally bogs


Mating takes place in the air. Female lays eggs by tapping her abdomen into water typically near vegetation. Males may hover gaurd in places where the population is low.

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.