Scientific name: Orthetrum cancellatum
The Black-tailed skimmer is a narrow-bodied dragonfly that can be seen flying low over the bare gravel and mud around flooded gravel pits and reservoirs. It is on the wing from May to August.
When to seeMay to August
AboutThe Black-tailed skimmer is a medium-sized, straight-sided, fairly narrow-bodied dragonfly. It is on the wing from May to August and is commonly found in flooded gravel pits and reservoirs, where it flies low over the water before landing on the bare shore to rest in the sun. The larvae of Black-tailed skimmers can take two to three years to mature. Once they emerge from the water, they may travel some distance over land to find a suitable site to undergo metamorphosis. After mating, mature females lay their eggs by hovering over the water, dipping the tip of their abdomen in, and dropping their eggs on to vegetation below the surface.
How to identifyThe male Black-tailed skimmer has a grey thorax and a powder-blue abdomen with yellow spots along the sides and a black tip. The female is yellowy-brown with two black stripes running the length of the body. There are several medium-sized, pale blue dragonflies that can be confused. This species can be distinguished from the others by its narrow abdomen with black tip and yellow spots along the side.
In our area
Black-tailed Skimmer is increasing it's range in the UK and you can see this in the local records, with the majority from the last ten years. It can now be considered a possible species in any suitable habitat. Do let us know if you see one.