Libellula comanche
(Comanche Skimmer)


Order: Odonata
Suborder: Anisoptera
Order Description:
Dragonflies
Family: Libellulidae
Family Description: Skimmer

Description:
   Naiad- This is a medium-sized naiad with a length of 7/8 to 15/16 inch (21 to 24 mm). The abdomen is rounded, giving it a short, stocky appearance known as the sprawler form. Each side of abdominal segments eight and nine has a very short, rear-facing spine.
   Adult- This is a large skimmer, with a length of 1 7/8 to 2 3/16 inches (47 to 55 mm). The face is creamy to yellowish white and the base color of the thorax and abdomen is brownish black. There are two patches of gray on each side of the thorax. Older males have a powdery blue coating (a condition called "pruinose") on the thorax and abdomen. Females are marked with yellow, down the center of the top of the thorax and along each side of the tops of the abdominal segments. The wings are clear but the stigma, the "spot" on the leading edge of each wing, is bi-colored dark brown and yellow.

Range:
This species is found from California east to Texas, extending north through parts of Idaho and Montana. It has been observed in only two locations in Idaho: at Hot Springs Falls in Owyhee County, and at a hot spring just west of Carey in Butte County.

Habitat:
This dragonfly can be found primarily near ponds, lakes, and hot springs. In Idaho, this species is found only at hot springs.

Adult Flight Season:
Mid-June to mid-August

Diet:
   Naiad- Naiads feed on a wide variety of aquatic insects, such as mosquito larvae, other aquatic fly larvae, mayfly larvae, and freshwater shrimp. They will also eat small fish and tadpoles.
   Adult- The dragonfly will eat almost any soft-bodied flying insect including mosquitoes, flies, butterflies, moths, mayflies, and flying ants or termites.

Ecology:
The naiads live in submerged vegetation and mud at the bottom of ponds, lakes, and hot springs. They do not actively pursue prey but wait for it to pass by, a strategy which affords them protection from other predators. Naiads emerge as adults at night. Adults generally fly from mid-June to mid-August. Members of this species are very aggressive towards other species of dragonflies. They hunt from perches on twigs or rocks.

Reproduction:
Males establish and actively defend territories at prime breeding locations. After males and females mate, the female flies singly, without the male attached, to lay her eggs. She does this by dipping the tip of her abdomen in the shallows of lakes and ponds while hovering just above its surface.

Conservation:
Populations are widespread, abundant, and secure.
Status: Unprotected nongame species
Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S?

References:
Corbet, P. S. 1999. Dragonflies: Behavior and Ecology of Odonata. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York, USA, 829pp.

Logan, E. R. 1967. The Odonata of Idaho. Unpublished M. S. thesis. University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho, USA, 105 pp.

Needham, J. G. and M. J. Westfall. 1955. Dragonflies of North America. University of California Press, Berkely, California, USA, 615 pp.

Paulson, D. R. 1999. Dragonflies of Washington. Seattle Audubon Society, Seattle, Washington, USA, 32 pp.

Walker, E. M. and P. S. Corbet. 1975. The Odonata of Canada and Alaska, Vol. III. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 307 pp.


Written by Mark Lung and Stefan Sommer, 2001
Photos by Dennis Paulson, 2001
Design by Ean Harker, 2001.