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Widow skimmer (Libellula luctuosa)        Images © Mark A. Chappell

Widow skimmers are striking dragonflies, especially the males with their white and black wing patches.   Females generally lack the white wing markings, but have brilliant green-gold abdominal stripes.   The ones with purplish abdomens and wings with black tips but no white areas are juvenile females (I think).   Most of these individuals were photographed near Manhattan, Kansas, where they were very abundant around permanent pools in early summer.   The images at the bottom of the page were taken at the Salton Sea, Colorado River, or the Imperial Valley in southern California; these skimmers have less striking wing markings.

  • Canon 1D3, 1D4, or 7D2; 800 mm IS lens plus 1.4X converter and extension tubes, 70-200 f4 IS, or Tamron 180 mm macro, fill-in flash (2009, 2011, 2012, 2015)