SLATY, SPANGLED, and great blue SKIMMER (MALES)
Male Slaty Skimmer, photographed at Caesar Creek. Slaty Skimmers can appear black, gray, or pale blue. The individual at left has a water mite infestation (the small bumps underneath his abdomen).
Slaty Skimmers fly from late May through early 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 white claspers at the end of their abdomens like Eastern Pondhawks do.
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 keep seeing them pop up in new locations around this area.
This is a male Spangled Skimmer. These dragonflies are similar to Slaty Skimmers, but Spangled Skimmers have a distinctive half-white and half-black stigma on each wing. Spangled Skimmers are currently somewhat uncommon in our area but they might expand their presence in years to come. The individual at left was photographed at Sunfish Pond, Germantown MetroPark on June 12, 2016.
This is another male Spangled Skimmer, photographed May 28, 2018, at the Caesar Creek Wildlife Area. Caesar Creek is the best location I have found for this species in our area. I also saw a female at the Beavercreek Wildlife Area in 2019. Spangled Skimmers fly from mid-May to late July.
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. If you see one 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. Notice that the shoulder patch on a Great Blue Skimmer is white or pale blue. A Blue Dasher would have stripes on the 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. The population boom in 2019 could have also been caused by the heavy rains and flooding in May and June. The torrential rain was detrimental to a lot of dragonfly species, but heavy rain actually helps Great Blue Skimmers by flooding their woodland swamps.
Great Blue Skimmers are found in shady wetlands, such as swamps or the shaded corners of ponds. I have found this species at Spring Lakes Park in Bellbrook, the Beavercreek Wildlife Area, and the Garland Wetland Reserve near Fairborn. My sightings have occurred from late May through July, and Great Blue Skimmers also fly later in the season.