Purple Skimmer

Purple Skimmer
PURPLE SKIMMER (Libellula jesseana)
Pronounced: Order: Odonata
Kingdom: Animalia Family: Libellulidae
Phylum: Arthropoda Genus: Libellula
Class: Insecta Species: Jesseana

This flying jewel is only found at a few freshwater lakes in Florida, USA, and is becoming increasingly rare due to habitat destruction and water pollution. Like all dragonflies, its ability to catch prey in midair is a result of fast flight speeds (up to 38 km/hour), and excellent eyesight. This acrobatic flyer can hover and accelerate in midair.

Skimmers are a large group of dragonflies known for their colourful wings. Females insert their eggs under the surface of water of clear, sand-bottomed lakes with little shoreline vegetation. Males usually hover nearby, making sure nothing preys on their mate or their young until they are well established in the water. The young that hatch from these eggs are called nymphs or naiads and are aquatic. They are carnivorous, eating any arthropod or crustacean larvae, eggs or adults they can fit into their mouths. They molt several times, leaving their exoskeletons behind and growing new ones. On their final molt, they crawl out of the water and grow wings.

Skimmers, like other dragonflies, have four wings, six legs and short antennae. Their compound eyes usually touch, and take up most of the room on their heads. They have long, transparent wings and often colourful bodies. They rest with their wings spread open, unlike damselflies, which rest with them up and touching. Their necks are extremely flexible allowing them to turn their heads almost all the way to the back and tilt them up and down at higher angles than most other animals.

Odonata means “toothed ones” and skimmers do have quasi-teeth. They’re serrated mandibles that help them get a good grip on prey in the air. They eat mosquitos and gnats, among other flying insects, so they are considered to be “beneficial” to humans.


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