Orthetrum cancellatum - Black-tailed Skimmer dragonfly

Phylum: Arthropoda - Class: Insecta - Order: Odonata - Family: Aeschnidae

A male Black-tailed Skimmer dragonfly, Yorkshire


With its grey thorax and powder-blue abdomen with yellow spots along the sides and a black tip, the male Black-tailed Skimmer (pictured above) is quite distinctive.

A female Black-tailed Skimmer dragonfly, southern England

The female (above) is yellowy-brown and has two black stripes running along the length of the body; however, it is not quite so easy to separate from other females with yellowish bodies. Its narrowish body (compared with the 'chasers') is a helpful distinguishing feature.

A male Black-tailed Skimmer dragonfly, southern England


The Black-tailed Skimmer is fairly common and widespread in England, Wales and Ireland but scarce in the north and absent from most of Scotland. This dragonfly is also recorded throughout most of mainland Europe and much of Asia.

A male Black-tailed Skimmer resting on warm earth beside a pond in early summer
A male Black-tailed Skimmer dragonfly seen in Yorkshire, late June.

Mainly seen over ponds, canals or slow-flowing streams from May until August, this beautiful dragonfly skims low across the surface.


This page includes pictures kindly contributed by James Wainscoat.

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