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Black-headed Skimmer Dragonfly - Crocothemis nigrifrons

FAMILY LIBELLULIDAE

This page contains information and pictures about Black-headed Skimmer Dragonflies that we found in the Brisbane area, Queensland, Australia. They are also known as Blue Scarlet.
 
Male, body length 45mm
 
The male Black-headed Skimmer has black head, black thorax and blue abdomen, with a dark blue line along the top of abdomen. Their wings are clear. 
 
DSC_2435.jpg (92950 bytes) 
Female                                                                  Male
 
The female is yellow in colour, with  a black line along the top of abdomen. The matured Black-headed Skimmer females can be in two colour forms, either yellow brown or blue like the male. Hindwings base of female are smoky brown.  
 
  wpe6.jpg (40534 bytes)
Larval exuviae, length 25mm    
 
They are one of the most common dragonflies in Brisbane. They can be found on still and slowly running waters. 
 
In Brisbane there are some other blue dragonflies, the Blue Skimmer and the Palemouth, with similar colour and size. They can be found at the same habitats. They can be distinguished by Black-headed Skimmer has the dark head/thorax and wider abdomen. Palemouth is smaller. In both species the female are in brownish yellow colour. The Black-headed Skimmer female has the black line at the middle of the boarder abdomen.
 
We observed  that the Black-headed Skimmers  mated in wheel position took only a few seconds, when both female and male are still in air. Then they separate with the male guarding the female for laying eggs. The female dip the tip of her abdomen quickly onto the water surface. Details please also visit this page.
   
  wpe9.jpg (20100 bytes)
 
The above pictures were taken in a very hot day. The dragonfly perches with abdomen pointing towards the sun, i.e., reduces the body surface on sunlight, to reduce the heat absorbed. Many Skimmers perch in this way in a hot day.
 
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Young male, body colour just turn blue.                 Old male, with darker colour and wear-off wings.
 
The above pictures show a young male and an old male. The immature male is yellow brown in colour, same colour as the female. They are sometime found hiding among the vegetations near the waters. He will turn into blue colour and return to its breeding ground when matured, i.e., one or two weeks after emerged.  
 
The mature male is powdered blue in colour. In the above second picture, we can tell the dragonfly is old by the wear off of its wings. Notice that the colour of each side of the abdomen is darker. This is due to consequence mating, the blue colour is robbed off by the female when in wheel position. The scratched deep blue colour in the above picture indicated that the male dragonfly has mated many times.
 
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As most Skimmers, this dragonfly rest with wings hold forward and depressed. 
 
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Reference:
1. The Australian Dragonflies - CSIRO, Watson, Theisinger & Abbey,1991, p244.
2. A Field Guide to Dragonflies of South East Queensland - Ric Nattrass, 2006, p87.
3. The Complete Field Guide to Dragonflies of Australia - CSIRO, GŁnther Theischinger and John Hawking, 2006, p262. 

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Up ] Common Archtail ] [ Black-headed Skimmer ] Blue Skimmer ] Fiery Skimmer ] Slender Skimmer ] Palemouth Shorttail ] Scarlet Percher ] Wandering Percher ] Black Faced Percher ] Red Arrow ] Red Swamp Dragon ] Graphic Flutterer ] Yellow-striped Flutterer ] Red Baron ] Short-tailed Duskdarter ] Water Prince ] Common Glider ]

 
                                                

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Last updated: October 10, 2009.