Twelve-spotted Skimmer

A large white and black winged dragonfly perched on a twig.

NPS/Gordon Dietzman


This large dragonfly often rests on a prominent perch within its territory. Even when startled it may dart off only to return within a few minutes. The male twelve-spotted patrols his territory and defends it against other male twelve-spotteds and even other dragonflies.
Some call this dragonfly the ten-spotted skimmer because the male has ten white spots on his wings (including the two rear wing spots next to the body). However, twelve-spotted is a more accurate name since the female doesn't have the white spots, but does have the twelve dark spots.

Watch Behavior

Approach this dragonfly slowly, but if it flies off, move closer to its vacant perch quickly and then stop. Often the twelve-spotted will return providing the careful stalker great views of its behavior. Also watch for females laying eggs in flight by striking the surface of the water with the tip of her abdomen.


Key ID Features: This is a large, handsome dragonfly about two inches long with unmistakable spotted wings.

Present in the Park: June through September. This dragonfly is common throughout the Twin Cities area. Check the Pickerel Lake area in Lilydale Regional Park.

Habitat: Ponds and nearby prairie or old fields.

Last updated: December 4, 2017

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Saint Paul, MN 55101


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