Dragonflies & Damselflies | Orthetrum caledonicum > Female

The gorgeous female dragonfly of the species Orthetrum caledonicum, commonly called the Blue Skimmer, whose common name really refers to the male of the species, is very different in colour.

Often described as brownish grey in colour, it is during the teneral state that they are described as yellow with black markings.

Female Orthetrum caledonicum, Alice Springs, NT
Female Orthetrum caledonicum, Alice Springs, NT

When a dragonfly is in a “teneral” state, the term refers to the dragonfly having recently moulted and its exoskeleton is yet to harden and get its final colouration. During this state the dragonfly is vulnerable, whilst the teneral state can last for some time.

So, unlike the male that were also originally yellow and who change into the familiar powder blue colour, the female of the species remain yellow throughout their life.

Female Orthetrum caledonicum, Alice Springs, NT
Female Orthetrum caledonicum, Alice Springs, NT

Under certain light conditions, the female range from a stunning gold colour to other metallic hues, dependent on their surroundings.

Medium in size, with a body length of 4-5 cm and a wingspan of approximately 6-7 cm, the female species are slightly smaller then the mature males. It has been observed that in some older female dragonflies, the colour changes to a powder blue, but not as strong a blue colour as that of the males.

All that glitters, could be gold… the Female Orthetrum caledonicum is certainly one spectacularly looking dragonfly.

Many thanks to Robert Read, member of Alice Springs Field Naturalists Club, Facebook group for ID of this dragonfly.


Footnote & References

  1. Alice Springs Field Naturalists Club, Facebook group, https://www.facebook.com/groups/alicefieldnats/
  2. Orthetrum caledonicum, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orthetrum_caledonicum (last visited Apr. 23, 2022)
  3. Orthetrum caledonicum, Friends of Big Swamp, http://www.friendsofbigswamp.org.au/blue-skimmer-dragonfly.html