Common Whitetail Skimmer

A dragonfly sits on a dried grass stem.

NPS/Gordon Dietzman


The adult male common whitetail skimmer has a bluish-white tail that it uses to flash warnings to other males that intrude into his territory. This whitish tail coloration, however, is not its actual color, but a waxy covering called "prunosity," that naturally occurs as the dragonfly matures.

Territory is important to the common whitetail male as any female finding his territory desirable for egg laying must mate with him. By vigorously protecting his territory from encroaching males, he insures it will be his genetics that is passed on to the next generation.

This dragonfly prefers to perch horizontally on the ground, although they may perch on gently sloping rooftops in suburban areas in suitable habitat.

Watch for Behavior

The female vigorously strikes the water with her ovipositor (located at the end of the abdomen) when laying eggs, often throwing small droplets of water high in the air.


Key ID Features: Body is about 1.7 inches long. Adult males with pruinose tails. Females resemble female twelve-spotted skimmers.

Present in Park: June through August.

Habitat: Ponds, but straying into forested openings, parks, and forested suburban yards.

Last updated: December 4, 2017

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Saint Paul, MN 55101


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