Crimson-ringed Whiteface

The crimson-ringed whiteface (Leucorrhinia glacialis) is a “northern” dragonfly that is found in Canada and the upper tier of States. Freshwater lakes and ponds, often with boggy margins, are the habitat of these members of the skimmer group of dragonflies.

The male crimson-ringed whiteface has a black body with red markings on the thorax. The first two segments of the abdomen are red, the face is white and the eyes are black. Females look the same as males, except females are yellowish where the male is red.

Crimson-ringed whiteface dragonfly larvae feed on a variety of aquatic insects, very small fish and tadpoles. Adults eat soft-bodied flying insects, including flies, small moths, mayflies, termites and flying ants. While I was photographing crimson-ringed whiteface dragonflies at Little Medicine Lake (Siskiyou County CA), I saw a male attack and fly off with a small bee.

Females are rarely seen alone as they quickly pair up with males. Once mated, females oviposit in flight by tapping the tip of their abdomen in the water while the male hovers nearby. One photograph shows a crimson-ringed whiteface pair in the mating “wheel” position. Look carefully – the yellow markings of the female are visible on the lower dragonfly.

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