New York Natural Heritage Program
Needham's Skimmer
Libellula needhami Westfall, 1943
Insects

Identifying Characteristics [-]
Adult Needham's Skimmers are about 2.1 inches long with reddish-brown eyes. Adult males have a bright red face, a reddish-brown thorax, and a bright reddish-orange abdomen with a black dorsal (top) stripe (Dunkle 2000). Their posterior (rear) wing veins do not become orange, as with Golden-winged Skimmers (Libellula auripennis). The stigma (a blood-filled blister near the tip of the wing) is red. Females and immature males have a brown face and their thorax is brown dorsally with a pale middle stripe and the sides of the thorax are pale. They have a yellow face, the front half of their wings are tinged yellow, and they have a yellow abdomen with a black dorsal stripe (Nikula et al. 2003).

Behavior [-]
Adults of both sexes of Needham's Skimmer are known to forage in marshes in coastal areas. "Males are territorial, and perch horizontally or obliquely from emergent or shoreline vegetation" (Nikula et al. 2003). This is a more coastal species than the Golden-winged Skimmer, which is believed to outcompete it in most habitats (Dunkle 2000).

Diet [-]
Needham's Skimmer larvae feed on smaller aquatic invertebrates and adults feed on insects which they capture in flight.
Needham's Skimmer Images
click to enlarge
The Best Time to See
Adult Needham's Skimmers have been found in New York in July and August, but could possibly be seen in late June and early September as well (Nikula et al. 2003, New York Natural Heritage Program 2007).
J F M A M J J A S O N D
Present Reproducing
The time of year you would expect to find Needham's Skimmer present (blue shading) and reproducing (orange shading) in New York.
Similar Species
  • Golden-Winged Skimmer (Libellula auripennis)
    The abdomen and face of the male Libellula needhami is more red than that of the Golden-winged Skimmer (Dunkle 2000). In addition, the tibia (or middle segment) of the hind legs are pale brown on the Needham's Skimmer and black on the Golden-winged Skimmer. The posterior (rear) half of the wings are suffused with orange-yellow on the Golden-winged Skimmer with an orange-yellow leading edge basally, while the anterior (front) portion of the wings on Needham's Skimmer are red-orange with a brownish leading edge basally (Nikula et at. 2003).