Dragonflies, Pacific Northwest
The four spotted skimmer is a medium-sized dragonfly with a length up to 4.5 cm. The wings are clear except for a clouding along the leading edge. The center of each wing is marked with a small dark dot, also on the leading edge. Additionally, each hind wing is marked with a dark patch near the base.
Males and females look alike, generally dark brown. The face and each side of the thorax are marked with patches of greenish yellow, and the sides of the abdomen lined with yellowy orange dashes.
After mating, the female will lay her eggs by dipping her tail in the water while hovering above.
They fly from early April to mid August.
This species is found from Alaska south to northern California. It is very common on the coast of BC.
They begin life as a medium to large larvae, with a length up to 2.5 cm. It is orangery brown in color, and the abdomen is rounded, giving it a short, stocky appearance. There is a small hook on the top of abdominal segments three through eight, while the hooks on segments five through seven are noticeably larger. There is a small, rear-facing spine on each side of abdominal segment eight and nine.
The larvae does particularly well in acidic bogs, and lives in the debris on the bottom of lakes, ponds, bogs, and marshes. I once watch one chase down a tadpole and kill it with 1 bite, then it hauled it away under a rock to eat, it was quite a scene. Was surprised at how fast it was able to move around. Pretty amazing little creatures, that’s for sure.