Orthetrum coerulescens - Keeled Skimmer dragonfly

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

A male Keeled Skimmer dragonfly, Yorkshire


With its blue-grey eyes and powder blue abdomen with a black dorsal line (hence the common name), the mature male Keeled Skimmer (pictured above) is quite distinctive.

The female is yellowy-brown and also has a black dorsal stripe; 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. To add confusion, immature males may have quite a lot of yellow-brown colouring, while at the end of the mating cycle some females develop a bluish pruination and could be mistaken for males.


Unfortunately, the Keeled Skimmer is not a very common sight in most of the UK, but colonies are found across many parts of England, Wales and Ireland. This dragonfly is more scarce in the north and in Scotland, where numbers appear to be on the increase. This dragonfly is also recorded throughout most of mainland Europe and much of Asia.

Mainly seen over shallow ponds, slow-flowing streams and wet heathland from late May until early September, this beautiful dragonfly skims low across the surface


The naiads or larvae of the Keeled Skimmer can develop in running water or in some stagnant areas such as small ponds and peat bogs. The eggs hatch in about five or six weeks, and the larvae are thought to have a development peiod of about two years..

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