Wisconsin Odonata Survey


Libellula luctuosa  Burmeister, 1839
Widow Skimmer

Libellulidae, Skimmer Family

Species of the genus Libellula (king skimmers) often perch on shoreline vegetation, are stout bodied, and usually have distinctive body and wing patterns.


Global: G5     Wisconsin: S5    

Distinguishing Characteristics:

The widow skimmer is easily identified by its wings, which have large dark patches on the basal half. With the shoulders and abdomen white, the black male has white and black bands on its wings. Lighter in the color than the male, the female's wings have brown tips and brown basal wing patches. The female also has yellow stripes going down its body. The colors tend to darken with age. The widow skimmer's body seems larger due to the wings being large for the body. The length of the body varies from 1.7 to 2.0 inches.

Description of Habitat/Range:

This species is common throughout United States and southeastern Canada but not in Great Basin and Rocky Mountains area. It is usually found at ponds, lakes, marshes, and some few slow streams. It is common and widely distributed throughout Wisconsin.

Flight Season:

Early June to late August in Wisconsin.

Shading illustrates monthly percentages of the total flight season records for the species. Each flight season record is a unique date/location/observer combination where one or more adult or an exuvia was recorded (excludes nymphs). The actual number of flight season records for each month is shown in parentheses.

Flight seasons begin earlier in the southern part of the state, often by a week or more. Also, flight charts may not be accurate for rare species because of few data available.
View user-submitted photos

(Click on photos to enlarge)
Photo of Male widow skimmer
Male widow skimmer. © Dan Jackson

Photo of Immature male widow skimmer
Immature male widow skimmer. © Dan Jackson

Photo of Immature male widow skimmer
Immature male widow skimmer. © Dan Jackson

Photo of Female widow skimmer
Female widow skimmer. © Dan Jackson

Photo of Teneral female widow skimmer
Teneral female widow skimmer. © Mike Reese

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