White-tailed Skimmer Orthetrum albistylum

Scientific Name: Orthetrum albistylum (Libellulidae).

English Name: White-tailed Skimmer (Chasers, Skimmers and Darters family).

French Name: L'Orthétrum à cercoïdes blancs (='white appendaged skimmer'); l'Orthétrum à stylets blancs (='white stylused skimmer').

5 Key Characters:
  • white appendages on the tip of the abdomen.
  • black pterostigmas (the coloured cell on the leading edge of each wing, near the tip).
  • pale stripes on the thorax, including an obvious mid-line running between the wings.
  • pale washed out colours (males blue, females yellowish).
  • males have black tips to their abdomen (with white appendages).

Lookalikes: Black-tailed Skimmer O. cancellatum, which is more robust and darker, with black appendages.

Habitat: Stillish warm open ponds, étangs and lakes. Also gravel pits, oxbows, millponds, ditches and canals. Tolerates eutrophic (nutrient polluted) water.

Flight Period: May-June-July-August-September.

Status: Common in the Brenne and south of the Loire. Has been extending its range northwards since the beginning of the 20th century. A pioneer species of new sites, but often pushed out by Black-tailed Skimmer after establishing a population. Always less abundant than the Black-tailed Skimmer. Intensive fish farming is detrimental to the species.

Photographed by Loire Valley Nature:


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