Twelve Spotted Skimmer by Mike Oxley


Small (23.2" x 15.5")

Available to buy on…

Guindon Park, Cornwall, Ontario, Canada
July 1, 2011

I decided to revisit the Dragon Pond today and brought along the old Bigma 170 to 500. I usually use the 28 to 300, but experience has proven that its reach is just not quite enough in this situation. The Bigma is a fairly slow lens so a few concessions had to made. I watched the antics of the Wee Dragons for a bit and saw at least three species zooming about, including this one, and they all had a tendency to stop on a reed that was jutting over the water. I prefocused on the reed and waited. Sure enough, one of these landed. Once they’ve done that, you can be pretty sure they’ll come back to the same spot at least a couple of times. This one did not disappoint.

With thanks to

Order: Odonata
Suborder: Anisoptera
Order Description: Dragonflies
Family: Libellulidae
Family Description: Skimmer


Naiad This is a medium to large naiad with a length of 15/16 to 1 1/16 inches (24 to 27 mm). It is dark orange-brown in color, and the abdomen is rounded, giving it a short, stocky appearance known as the sprawler form. There is a small hook on the top of abdominal segments four through seven, and there is a thin, slightly curved, rear-facing spine on each side of abdominal segment eight and nine.

Adult This is a fairly large dragonfly with a length of 2 to 2 ¼ inches (50 to 57 mm). Each wing is marked with three dark spots: one near the base where it attaches to the body, one in the center than nearly spans the width of the wing, and one at the tip. Females and immature males are brownish black. The side of the thorax is marked with two diagonal yellow stripes, and each side of the abdomen is lined with yellow. Mature males are brownish black, faintly marked with yellow, and become pruinose blue on the top of the abdomen. They may also develop a whitish patch on each wing to the outside of the spot next to the body.


This species is found from British Columbia east to Nova Scotia, extending south through most of the U.S., from California east to Florida. It is absent from very dry areas. In Idaho, it occurs throughout most of the state except for the driest portions of the southwest.


This dragonfly occurs near lakes, ponds and marshes, particularly those with exposed shorelines.

Adult Flight Season

Early June to late August


Naiads feed on a wide variety of aquatic insects, such as mosquito larvae, other aquatic fly larvae, mayfly larvae, and freshwater shrimp. They will also eat small fish and tadpoles.

The dragonfly will eat almost any soft-bodied flying insect including mosquitoes, flies, butterflies, moths, mayflies, and flying ants or termites.


Naiads live in the debris on the bottom of lakes, ponds, and marshes. They do not actively pursue prey but wait for it to pass by, a strategy which affords them protection from other predators. Naiads emerge as adults at night. Adults generally fly from early June through August. Hunting occurs from perches on twigs or rocks.


Males establish and defend territories, and are very aggressive towards members of their own species as well as other dragonflies. After males and females mate, the female flies singly, without the male attached, to lay her eggs. She does this by dipping the tip of her abdomen in the shallows of the body of water while hovering just above the water’s surface.


Populations are widespread, abundant, and secure.

Sony Alpha 700, Sigma 170 to 500 at 500 mm
iso 100, spot metered, F6.3, 1/320 second

In love with Ma Nature! Always have been, always will be. Let’s keep her safe, eh?

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  • Debbie Robbins
    Debbie Robbinsover 3 years ago

    I have No idea how you capture these incredible things Mike… but KUDOS my friend!!! Love those wings and your wonderful image!!! :)))

  • Many, many thanks, Debbie! And many thanks, too, for the fave. Greatly appreciated, my friend! The trick is to keep an eye on where they land, then focus on the spot. They usually come back to the same place at least a couple of times, so if you’re already set up it’s just a matter of changing your camera angle a little and bingo! A bit of patience required, but it pays off.

    – Mike Oxley

  • deb cole
    deb coleover 3 years ago

    You must have a cornucopia of patience, Mike! Send some my way, will ya? Fabulous capture!

  • Thanks so very much, Deb! There are so many wee dragons at the Pond, you usually don’t have too long a wait. It’s just waiting for the right one to appear. That reed was like Pearson Airport!

    – Mike Oxley

  • Sprezzatura
    Sprezzaturaover 3 years ago

    Oh, you clever thing, you. I have now learnt pre-focusing:) Superb capture, Mike. Cat:)

  • Many, many thanks, Cat! What a lovely comment, greatly appreciated!

    – Mike Oxley

  • Larry Trupp
    Larry Truppover 3 years ago

    Beautiful capture Mike

  • Thanks so very much, Larry, and many thanks for the “fave”, too! Greatly appreciated!

    – Mike Oxley

  • Fred Mitchell
    Fred Mitchellover 3 years ago

    The results of patience are a joy to behold.

  • Many, many thanks, Fred. What a lovely compliment! I was beginning to wonder if these dragonflies ever landed at all, but I think it was worth the wait!

    – Mike Oxley

  • Ray Clarke
    Ray Clarkeover 3 years ago

  • Thanks, Ray!

    – Mike Oxley

  • artwhiz47
    artwhiz47over 3 years ago

    …and a partridge in a pear tree…. Another magnificent catch, Mike. Such a special wee thing, made even better (if that’s possible) by that subtle & serene background.

  • Much appreciated, Sheila. Many thanks! There were about 10 to 15 of these characters whizzing around the pond and it was quite interesting to watch their interactions amongst themselves and the other denizens. A busy spot, indeed!

    – Mike Oxley

  • Shulie1
    Shulie1over 3 years ago

    Great shot, Mike – I saw a lot of these yesterday on a bench on a nature walk

  • Thanks so very much, Shulie! Great to come across them, isn’t it? There were quite a few buzzing about the pond, along with their counterparts. A busy little spot, indeed!

    – Mike Oxley

  • Tracy Faught
    Tracy Faughtover 3 years ago

    All right!! Awesome shot Mikey!! LOVE it!! :O]

  • Much appreciated, my friend! Aren’t these guys just the coolest Wee Dragons? And there was a whack of them zooming about. Great to see!

    – Mike Oxley

  • vigor
    vigorover 3 years ago

    I love the pattern on their wings!

  • Thanks so very much, Viv! It is an unusual pattern, isn’t it? I’m pretty sure it’s the first time I’ve seen these.

    – Mike Oxley

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