SLATY, SPANGLED, and great blue SKIMMER (MALES)

This male Slaty Skimmer has a water mite infestation (the small bumps underneath his abdomen). Water mites can be found on many different species of dragonflies, but I see them most often on Slaty Skimmers. 

Slaty Skimmers fly from late May through September. Pale blue individuals, like the one at left, are sometimes confused with male Eastern Pondhawks. However, Slaty Skimmers have large black eyes and black faces. (Eastern Pondhawks have green faces.) Also, Slaty Skimmers do not have the white claspers at the end of their abdomens as Eastern Pondhawks do.

The individual at left was the first Slaty Skimmer I ever saw at Cox Arboretum. I now find them at Cox, and many other locations, on a regular basis. 

This is a male Spangled Skimmer. These dragonflies have a distinctive half-white and half-black stigma on each wing. 

Spangled Skimmers fly from mid-May to late July.  They are found at shallow wetlands and ponds. 

Slaty Skimmers prefer shaded ponds and lakes. Look for them hanging out in the shadiest corner of any given pond.  

This is a male Great Blue Skimmer. These dragonflies are our largest skimmers. In the field, they are easy to identify based on size alone. The white face and green eyes separate them from Slaty Skimmers. In photos, Great Blue Skimmers could conceivably be confused with the much smaller Blue Dasher, but notice that the shoulder patch on a Great Blue Skimmer is white or pale blue. A Blue Dasher would have a striped thorax. 

Great Blue Skimmers were uncommon in our part of Ohio until 2019. This species had a great year in Ohio in 2019. There were numerous sightings and county records all across the state. Great Blue Skimmers might be expanding their range, or the population boom in 2019 could have been caused by the heavy rains and flooding in May and June. Heavy rain helps Great Blue Skimmers by flooding their woodland swamps.  This species was not as common in 2020, which was a much drier year. 

I found several Great Blue Skimmers at Garland Wetland Reserve in 2021 (part of the Beaver Creek Wetlands). Great Blue Skimmers are found in shady wetlands, such as swamps or the shaded corners of ponds. I have also found this species at Spring Lakes Park in Bellbrook (once) and the Beavercreek Wildlife Area. My sightings have all occurred from late May through July, but Great Blue Skimmers also fly later in the season.

Male Slaty Skimmer dragonfly. At one time, Slaty Skimmers were fairly uncommon in our part of Ohio, but they have expanded their presence dramatically in recent years. They are now quite common. 

I see Spangled Skimmers at Caesar Creek Wildlife Area more often than anywhere else, but they seem to be expanding their range northward. I have found them at several other locations, including Germantown MetroPark, Beavercreek Wildlife Area, Grant Park, and Oakes Quarry (the latter two were new locations in 2021).