Keeled Skimmer

Keeled SkimmerKeeled Skimmers can be spotted near the pools at Higher Bochym in summer.
Photo: Kate Dalziel

Scientific name: Orthetrum coerulescens

What to look for:

Colouring and appearance: Males: powder blue abdomen, with dusty coating (pruinescence) and thin line down the centre; blue-grey eyes. Females: yellow-brown abdomen with black line down centre.
Size: Length, to 40 to 44 mm.
Where: Prefers ponds and streams on wet acid heathland.
When: On the wing June to September.
Similar species: Black-tailed Skimmer, which is distinguished by the black tip to its abdomen. The Keeled Skimmer has a slimmer abdomen.

Keeled Skimmer (photo: Wikimedia Commons)On summer walks across the heathlands of The Lizard, make sure to look for Keeled Skimmers hovering or flying skittishly about over the ponds and streams that punctuate the heather-filled landscape. You might spot one basking in the sunshine, or resting on heather, its wings held characteristically forward as if wrapping them around the stem.

Patchily distributed but locally common in the UK, this dragonfly is mainly found in western parts of England, Scotland and Ireland. Keeled Skimmer males establish small territories along the banks of streams and ponds, from which they fly out to forage, to see off rival males or find females.

Keeled Skimmers(photo by Kate Dalziel)Did you know…?

… Dragonflies do not go through a pupal stage, unlike butterflies. The adult emerges from the final moult of the larval stage, which takes place above the waterbody surface. The British Dragonfly Society’s website has lots of information about the biology and ecology of dragonflies.

More information and references:

Chinery, M., 2005. Collins Complete Guide to British Insects. Collins, London.



Published: August 2016
Author: Amanda Scott
Photos: left, Kate Dalziel (mating Keeled Skimmers (in tandem)); right, by gailhampshire, via Wikimedia Commons [CC BY 2.0]