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Fiery Skimmer Dragonfly - Orthetrum villosovittatum

FAMILY LIBELLULIDAE

This page contains information and pictures about Fiery Skimmer Dragonflies that we found in the Brisbane area, Queensland, Australia. They are also known as Bog Skimmer Dragonflies.

Male and female, body length 45mm 

Fiery Skimmers are one of the most common species in Brisbane. They are easily recognized and are very friendly to observers, i.e., they will not fly away unless you come really close. We easily find a lot of them along any creek on a sunny day.


Male

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Male, body length 45mm  

Fiery Skimmers are in FAMILY LIBELLULIDAE, they have distinctly broadened abdomen. Their bodies are distinctively shorter than their wings span. Males are in red colour and females are in brown yellow colour. 

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Close-up of the male
 
Fiery Skimmer can be found on stream, boggy seepages, ponds and swamps
 
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Males tend to perch in the open and exposed branches, logs, or sandy shorelines. They spend most of the time at rest. Males are territorial and will often return to the same spot. They seldom rest on ground.
 

Female

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Female, body length 45mm
 
The female has golden thorax and brown abdomen, with a black line on the back along the top of abdomen. 
 
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Immature female, body length 45mm
 
Immature females have the thorax and eyes in lighter colour. They become darken when mature. There are the brown spots near the wing base.
 
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Females oviposit alone or in the company of guarding males. She dips the abdomen in the water for releasing the eggs.
 
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Feeding

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The dragonfly feeding on a large Tachinid fly
 
The adult is a predator in the sky and preying on flying insects. 

Courtship, mate and lay eggs

    
 
The above pictures show a female which is bright yellow to yellowish-brown in colour,  and a male which is bright red in colour. Their thorax are dark in colour. The wings of females are yellowish-brown near the wing base..
 
 
 
The male is courtshipping to attract the female. Male overtakes female from above, grasps female head or thorax and curves his abdomen to grip the female's prothorax with his anal appendages and form pair in tandem. Then the female will curve her abdomen to form the copulation wheel. Bog Skimmer Dragonflies usually form the wheel in the air.
 
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The above first picture show the mating pair. The second picture show the female laying eggs, guarding by the male not far away (not in the picture). 
 
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Wings of male. Their two pairs of wing are about equal in size. They are clean in colour. Quite a number of wing parts of this specimen are broken. This indicated the dragonfly was in its old age.
 
 
Wings of female.

Reference:
1. The Australian Dragonflies - CSIRO, Watson, Theisinger & Abbey,1991, p250.
2. A Field Guide to Dragonflies of South East Queensland - Ric Nattrass, 2006, p101.
3. The Complete Field Guide to Dragonflies of Australia - CSIRO, GŁnther Theischinger and John Hawking, 2006, p266.
4. Fiery Skimmer Fact File - Wild Life of Sydney, AUSTRALIAN MUSEUM, 2007. 
5. Fiery Skimmer - Australian-insects.com, 2007. 

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Last updated: April 24, 2011.