Four-spotted Skimmer

A brown, four-winged insect on a stick.

NPS/Gordon Dietzman


This handsome dragonfly is common throughout the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. Not only is it common here, but the four-spot has a circumpolar range, meaning that it is found around the northern hemisphere, including Europe and Japan, as well as the United States and Canada.

In the mid-1990s, Alaska school children nominated, and the state legislature declared, the four-spotted skimmer the state insect.

The four-spotted is an aggressive hunter of other insects, sometimes even capturing smaller dragonflies.

Watch for Behavior

The four-spotted skimmer usually perches on twigs that provides it with a good view of its surroundings. Watch it tilt its head up and down as it tries to spot nearby flying insects. It will dart from its perch to drive other dragonflies away from its territory or to capture food.


Key ID Features: 1.7" long. Brown body with four spots on wings (in addition to stigma, which is found in all dragonflies; it's the dark bar on the leading edge of each wing towards the end of the wing).

Present in Park: May through August. Look for the four-spotted in Hastings River Flats Park (Hastings) and near Cenaiko Lake (Coon Rapids Regional Park).

Habitat: Found near ponds and in nearby grasslands.

Last updated: December 4, 2017

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

111 E. Kellogg Blvd., Suite 105
Saint Paul, MN 55101


This is the general phone line at the Mississippi River Visitor Center.

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