Flame Skimmer

Native to Western North America, the flame skimmer (Libellula saturata) is a dragonfly common throughout my current home state of California. A large dragonfly, the flame skimmer is also commonly called a big red skimmer or a firecracker skimmer.

With orange or reddish orange eyes and face and an unmarked and unstriped orange body it is not difficult to see where this beauty gets its name(s). A flame skimmer’s wings are reddish to slightly beyond the nodus (slight bend in the wing at the midpoint of the leading edge). The wing veins are red and there is a reddish streak along the leading edge of the wing. Female flame skimmers have the same coloration but are duller.

Flame skimmers prefer the still waters of ponds, lakes, slow streams and pools in rivers.

Adult flame skimmers feed on soft-bodied insects such as flies, ants and mosquitoes. The larvae (also called nymphs or naiads) feast on aquatic insects, small fish and tadpoles as they develop.

After mating the male and female separate and the male leaves the female to oviposit her eggs alone while she hovers over the water dipping her abdomen. The female flame skimmer will often lays eggs is several different locations, perhaps to prevent the naiads from consuming each other.

These flame skimmers were photographed along Ash Creek near the Dan Ryan Meadow (Lassen County CA).

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