Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Neon skimmer on horsetail

with 50 comments

Neon Skimmer on Horsetail 7239

When I was at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on July 10th I photographed this obliging dragonfly that I take to be a neon skimmer, Libellula croceipennis, on the strobilus of a horsetail (genus Equisetum). Both the horsetail and this type of dragonfly are making their debut here today.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 9, 2014 at 5:55 AM

50 Responses

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  1. And a spectacular debut it is.


    August 9, 2014 at 7:04 AM

    • I’m sorry it isn’t even a bit more spectacular. Mature neon skimmers turn bright red, so this one apparently wasn’t mature.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 9, 2014 at 7:58 AM

      • Well, we have something to look forward to, one day; a bright red neon skimmer.


        August 9, 2014 at 8:40 AM

  2. Wow. Yet another great shot. D

    Pairodox Farm

    August 9, 2014 at 7:52 AM

    • This is from the same outing that brought you the portrait of the eastern cottontail rabbit,


      so make that two close views of local animals. Now if I could just have gotten a fawn to add to the fauna…

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 9, 2014 at 8:04 AM

      • Ouch. You know, that’s one wildlife image that I too have been wanting to add to my collection. When they are still very young, the mothers tend to ‘park’ the little ones to nap while they (the mothers) go off to forage. I’ve always wanted a view, from above, of one of these quietly sleeping, curled up, little things. I have, on several occasions been able to get pretty darn close … but never close enough … before they start and make for the hills. Someday … perhaps. D

        Pairodox Farm

        August 9, 2014 at 8:09 AM

        • Coincidence: while you were writing your reply I was replying to Bente, and we both used the word ouch. As for fawns, we came home one night and found a fawn “parked” at the base of a tree on the front lawn, but I didn’t want to get a picture with flash, which would have been the only way to go at night. In retrospect, I’m sorry I didn’t do that, because maybe I could have gotten a decent picture.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 9, 2014 at 8:18 AM

  3. Very good!


    August 9, 2014 at 7:57 AM

    • Thanks, Bente. Your comment made me curious about dragonflies in Norway, so I looked online and found out that the word for dragonfly in Norwegian is øyenstikker, which seems to mean ‘eye sticker.’ Ouch. The colloquial name for a dragonfly in New York, where I grew up, is darning needle.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 9, 2014 at 8:12 AM

  4. This is why I follow you Steve 😀


    August 9, 2014 at 8:04 AM

  5. Great angle. It may be a female with that more subdued colouring.


    August 9, 2014 at 8:40 AM

    • I chose the angle to keep the dragonfly’s body roughly parallel to the camera’s sensor. That way the body came out sharp from head to tail, even if the tips of the wings went out of focus.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 9, 2014 at 9:08 AM

  6. The red may not be neon, but the veinings in the wings are so crisp and lovely. When the biting flies come out at the lake, I am always glad to see squadrons of dragonflies take to the air.


    August 9, 2014 at 10:19 AM

    • Your use of the word “squadrons” made me think of dragonflies as airplanes of World War I vintage flying around attacking those biting flies that are the enemy.

      As for the non-neon here, I know I’ve photographed bright red dragonflies at various times, and maybe I’ll have to post a picture of one to show how vivid these insects can be.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 9, 2014 at 10:41 AM

  7. I have a new appreciation for dragonflies, thanks to you! Another beauty shot!


    August 9, 2014 at 10:49 AM

    • Glad to hear it, Kathy. Let’s say you’ve been voluntarily dragooned into the legion of dragonfly appreciators.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 9, 2014 at 10:52 AM

  8. Some time ago, I found a roseate skimmer (Orthemis ferruginea out at Anahuac Wildlife Refuge. I confused it at the time with the neon skimmer, but they’re clearly different. From the information on your linked page, it seems pretty certain this is an immature male, since the female has clear wings. Not only that, the red is beginning to develop on this one’s back and legs. I remember when I used to think most dragonflies were ugly. I think I’m getting over that.

    When you’re out and about, looking for a fawn to go with your fauna, you might stay alert for fauns, too.


    August 9, 2014 at 2:08 PM

    • The closest I’ve come to fauns is Debussy’s “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun,” based on a poem by Mallarmé, but if I ever come any closer to one I’ll be sure to let you know.

      Like you, I noticed that strip of red on the dragonfly’s otherwise brownish-orange abdomen, and took it to be a harbinger of vivid color to come. I saw a bright red individual at the Wildflower Center that day, and I did take some photographs of it, but it wasn’t in a place where I could approach and get pictures as good as this one (in fact I got quite a bit closer to the one shown here).

      As for clear, it’s not clear to me that females of this species always have clear wings, because the entry for the neon skimmer in John Abbott’s book about dragonflies in Texas says that females may have clear wings. What is clear is that you’re better off for having changed your opinion that most dragonflies are ugly.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 9, 2014 at 2:51 PM

  9. Lovely!


    August 9, 2014 at 3:10 PM

  10. The clarity of this shot is amazing, but the veining in the wings steals the show! Beautiful, Steve.


    August 9, 2014 at 9:09 PM

    • Let’s hear it for clarity, Lynda; it’s something I often strive for. And yes, dragonflies’ veins can surely steal the show. In future encounters I’ll have to see if I can get pictures with more of the veining in focus.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 9, 2014 at 9:46 PM

  11. thats incredible!! fantastic shot


    August 10, 2014 at 3:48 AM

  12. Not only does your effort to be parallel give us a great look at this handsome ode and the tip of the horsetail as well as including your signature sky, but it imparts a bit of personality to said Neon Skimmer. Very nice, Steve.

    Steve Gingold

    August 10, 2014 at 6:10 AM

  13. What a fantastic shot, Steve – I’m in awe!


    August 10, 2014 at 9:17 AM

  14. a Nat geo shot, great one!


    August 10, 2014 at 1:41 PM

  15. What an amazing capture! Just breathtaking, truly.


    August 10, 2014 at 11:34 PM

  16. […] the same outing that produced the portraits of the eastern cottontail and the spotted orbweaver and the neon skimmer that you recently saw.  A productive visit, wouldn’t you […]

  17. Very crisp subject, focus and color interactions. Bravo.


    August 20, 2014 at 7:45 AM

  18. Love the wings, amazing!!!


    August 29, 2014 at 9:46 PM

  19. Your photo shows so many wonderful details. Those eyes are not to be ignored.


    August 11, 2021 at 7:22 PM

    • I’m always happy when an insect lets me get as close with my 100mm macro lens as this one did. The eyes were definitely not to be ignored.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 11, 2021 at 8:09 PM

      • I can relate to that happiness. This summer, my butterfly photo collection is very limited because the butterflies have not been willing to let me approach them.


        August 11, 2021 at 9:45 PM

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