Common Whitetail and twelve-spotted skimmer

The Common Whitetail is an abundant and widespread dragonfly, often found a good distance away from the nearest body of water. Mature males have pruinose white abdomens. 

Immature males have the same wing pattern as mature males (above), but their bodies are brown with white notches along the sides. This species flies from late April through September in our area. 

Female Common Whitetails also have white notches along the sides of their abdomens, but their wing pattern is different from males. Females have three dark spots on each wing (12 spots total). Compare them to female Twelve-Spotted Skimmers, which are larger and lack the white notches on the abdomen.

Male Twelve-spotted Skimmers have a beautiful design of alternating white and black dots on their wings. This species is fairly common in our area and flies from late May through early October.

Female Twelve-spotted Skimmers are similar to female Common Whitetails, but Twelve-spotted Skimmers are larger and lack the white notches along the abdomen. Female Twelve-spotted Skimmers have long, unbroken, pale yellow stripes along their abdomens. 

A teneral  Twelve-spotted Skimmer, found shortly after emergence at Cox Arboretum. 

Notice how white the abdomen on this Twelve-spotted Skimmer is. This is a sign that this an older individual. The abdomen starts out brown and develops a white coating with age. 

A newly emerged female Common Whitetail, photographed at Grant Park in Centerville on April 27, 2019.  

Another female Twelve-spotted Skimmer, hanging out in the prairie at Sugarcreek MetroPark. 

This is another male Twelve-spotted Skimmer. These dragonflies are often seen near ponds and wetlands, but I also find them in prairies and meadows, a good distance away from the nearest body of water.