Dragonflies: Orthetrum caledonicum

Damselflies Austroagrion cyane Austroagrion watsoni Austroargiolestes calcaris Austrocnemis splendida Austrolestes annulosus Austrolestes aridus Austrolestes cingulatus Austrolestes io Austrolestes leda Austrolestes psyche Coenagrion lyelli Hemiphlebia mirabilis Ischnura aurora Ischnura heterosticta Pseudagrion microcephalum Xanthagrion erythroneurum Dragonflies Anax papuensis Archaeosynthemis orientalis Austroaeschna ingrid Austroaeschna multipunctata Austroaeschna unicornis Austrogomphus guerini Austropetalia tonyana Austrothemis nigrescens Crocothemis nigrifrons Dendroaeschna conspersa Diplacodes bipunctata Diplacodes haematodes Diplacodes melanopsis Diplacodes trivialis Eusynthemis virgula Hemicordulia australiae Hemicordulia tau Notoaeschna sagittata Orthetrum caledonicum Parasynthemis regina Petalura gigantea Procordulia jacksoniensis Synthemis eustalacta Telephlebia brevicauda
distribution map
Source: ALA

mature male, Bunyip State Park, VIC

female, Wangaratta, VIC

maturing male, Bunyip State Park, VIC

pruinose female, Goodnight Scrub, QLD
Common NameBlue Skimmer
Genus/SpeciesOrthetrum caledonicum (Brauer, 1865)
Abundance &
This species is common throughout Australia, including Tasmania (although rare), the arid inland and nearby islands, such as New Guinea.
HabitatFound at a variety of habitats, particularly lakes and ponds with banks exposed in the sun.
Description &
These are medium-sized dragonflies and identification is confusing for the uninitiated because females and immature males are similarly patterned with a predominantly yellow body and black markings. Mature males become pruinescent but the head and tip of the tail are dark. I find the narrowing humeral stripe (on the "shoulder") helps identifying the Orthetrum genus.
Behaviour &
Being one of the most common, this species is readily encountered at public gardens near ponds or at farm dams. Males will perch on exposed ground or rocks along the edge of water and occasionally patrol low over the water. They will readily chase conspecifics or other dragonflies. Females deposit eggs into water in flight by hoverring and dipping their tail into the water, usually at the edge.
Similar SpeciesVery similar to Orthetrum boumiera, which however has a very restricted range. Other female and immature skimmers may look similar. Mature male Crocothemis nigrifrons are also similar, but they have a darker head & thorax coloration and the entire tail is blue (the tip is black for O. caledonicum). Some Austrogomphus species are yellow with black markings and therefore look superficially similar but their markings around the top of the thorax are distinctly different.
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Page Updated: 1-Apr-2016
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