Orthetrum caledonicumFemale Orthetrum caledonicum Mating Blue Skimmers

The Blue Skimmer (Orthetrum caledonicum) is widespread throughout Australia. A common Australian dragonfly, they are often seen skimming around and across stretches of water, including backyard swimming pools and fish ponds.

Blue Skimmer (Orthetrum caledonicum), Alice Springs, NT
Blue Skimmer (Orthetrum caledonicum), Alice Springs, NT

The male of the species are a powder blue in colour (in mature males the thorax and abdomen are a pruinose blue). The outer wings have a smoky suffusion.

Blue Skimmer (Orthetrum caledonicum), Alice Springs, NT
Blue Skimmer (Orthetrum caledonicum), Alice Springs, NT

The males change colour. In the juvenile/young dragonfly they have a yellowish body with dull black patterns. This is the teneral stage.

The teneral stage of the dragonfly is where the dragonfly has recently moulted and its exoskeleton is yet to harden and get its final colouration.

As the male dragonfly matures, body gradually develops a waxy coating in the early stages of its life. This has an effect on light as it passes through the colloidal wax. The light is absorbed, except for the blue light, which gets scattered by the particles of the wax, giving the male dragonfly its’ blue appearance (known as the Tyndall Effect). The process of this colour change is called Pruinescence.

The female dragonfly also go through colour changes, with the young female having a yellow body with dull black patterns. As the female matures, they turn brownish grey in colour. In the older female dragonflies, the colour changes to a powder blue, but not as strong a blue colour as that of the males. Some female of this species have been documented as having the appearance of a shiny gold metallic colour (see our page on Female Orthetrum caledonicum.

  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Order: Odonata
  • Infraorder: Anisoptera
  • Family: Libellulidae
  • Genus: Orthetrum
  • Species: O. caledonicum
  • Binomial name: Orthetrum caledonicum

Footnote & References

  1. Alice Springs Field Naturalists Club Facebook group – thanks to member Robert Read for the ID of this species, https://www.facebook.com/groups/alicefieldnats/
  2. Blue Skimmer (Orthetrum caledonicum), iNaturalistAU, https://inaturalist.ala.org.au/observations?taxon_id=155504
  3. Orthetrum caledonicum, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orthetrum_caledonicum (last visited Feb. 26, 2022)
  4. Blue Skimmer Dragonfly – Orthetrum caledonicum, Brisbane Insects and Spiders, https://www.brisbaneinsects.com/brisbane_dragons/BlueSkimmer.htm

Orthetrum caledonicumFemale Orthetrum caledonicum Mating Blue Skimmers

Dragonflies & DamselfliesDragonfly or Damselfly? Sex Lives and Dragonflies Damselflies Diplacodes haematodes Diplacodes melanopsis (Black-faced Percher) Hemicordulia tau Orthetrum caledonicum Orthetrum migratum Orthetrum villosovittatum

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