in the fall as the weather cools.
Comet darners, Anax longipes, are a little larger. Mature males have a red abdomen, but they lack the bulls-eye pattern on the head of the newly emerged common green darners. Comet darners are fairly rare and have been collected only in the Ozarks. Juveniles usually live only in ponds that have water all year long but contain no fish.
Emeralds are rare but those that live in ponds are easy to find. Several members of this family are famous for their bright green eyes.
Look for the prince baskettails, Epitheca princeps, most of the summer. They have dark spots at the base, middle and tip of each wing. The color varies in different individuals. As a general rule, the farther north the less color. Prince baskettails are about 2 inches long and have 3-inch wingspans. As with many species in this family, the abdomen is slender and narrows into a waist. Get close enough and you can see that the thorax is hairy. Males and females look alike, except for their eyes. Adult males have bright green eyes, while the females have dark brown eyes.
These dragonflies live throughout Missouri, the eastern half of the United States and several Canadian provinces. The nymphs live in lakes, larger ponds and medium-size streams.
Two smaller baskettails also live in ponds but fly only in the spring and early summer. The stripe-winged baskettail, Epitheca costalis, and common baskettail, Epitheca cynosura, are difficult to tell apart. Both have a small dark spot at the base of their wings and a relatively slender abdomen.
Skimmersinclude some familiar dragonflies. Species vary greatly in color and size, making it difficult to generalize about the family.
Widow skimmers, Libelulla luctosa, are common near ponds. They are thick bodied, as are most skimmers, and have a broad band of dark color at the base of their wings. Males have a white band across the middle of the wings that gets more noticeable as they mature.
Females are gold along the sides of the abdomen. Newly emerged males also have some gold along the sides of their abdomen, but their body will take on a powdery white appearance. Skimmers are 3 inches long and have a 3-inch wingspan.
This skimmer lives throughout Missouri and most other states, as well as in a few Canadian provinces and south into Mexico. Juveniles live in ponds and lakes of all sizes and in the slower