Black-Tailed Skimmer: 15 Facts You Won't Believe!

Black-Tailed Skimmer Fact File

The black-tailed skimmer is a dragonfly that lives in the southern United States and has an amazing ability to fly. These creatures are known for their wide wingspan. They also have sturdy legs with powerful claws on the end of them to help them grab onto surfaces like rocks or leaves. This insect has plenty of interesting facts about how it breeds, what creatures eat it, and where it lives, making them one of nature's most fascinating insects!

They are most often seen on ponds or other bodies of slow-moving water, where they skim across the surface to eat insects like mosquitoes as well as larvae that live underwater (just below the surface). The skimmer's tail is black with a white tip which resembles an airplane propeller when it flies through open water! The black-tailed skimmer's bill has a yellow stripe at the base of the top mandible and black tips on both ends. They also have a blue abdomen. They use their bills with yellow spots to catch food as they skim across water surfaces.

These birds stay close to shorelines where there is abundant vegetation present as this attracts the insect varieties that they love to eat. The black-tailed skimmer is the only North American dragonfly species that breeds in freshwater regions. This fascinating creature also has a unique behavior where it perches for hours on end, waiting to swoop down and catch prey near lakeshores or streamsides with its long mouthparts.

For more relatable content, check out these black skimmer facts and dragonfly facts for kids.

Black-Tailed Skimmer

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Small insects, like garden spiders and other bugs

What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?

0.04-0.08 lb (20-40 g)

How long are they?

1.5-2 in (4.5-5.5 cm)

How tall are they?


What do they look like?

Gray, white, blue, black, yellow

Skin Type


What are their main threats?

Birds and rodents

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them

Gravel pits or any pit in the ground near flowers and trees


The United States





Scientific Name

Orthetrum cancellatum





Black-Tailed Skimmer Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a black-tailed skimmer?

The dragonfly black-tailed skimmer is a dragonfly that lives in the southern United States and has an amazing ability to fly.

What class of animal does a black-tailed skimmer belong to?

The black-tailed skimmer dragonfly belongs to the class Insecta, which contains many other types of insects such as ants and honey bees.

How many black-tailed skimmers are there in the world?

There is no way of knowing how many black-tailed skimmers exist in the world, but it is known that they live only in a very specific and small part of California, along coastlines from Monterey Bay to Point Conception.

Where does a black-tailed skimmer live?

This very large dragonfly is found in streams, ponds, and rivers. It can be distinguished by the black tail that it has on its hindwings which helps to distinguish one from other similar-looking species of flies.

What is a black-tailed skimmer's habitat?

A black-tailed skimmer dragonfly was once only found in the western Atlantic Ocean but now their habitat has been expanded to include parts of Central America. These dragonflies have also been spotted as far north as Canada, indicating that they are not just a temporary fixture for this region.

Who do black-tailed skimmers live with?

Black-tailed skimmers live alongside many species. Pelican, ibises, and grey herons can all be found in the same habitats as black-tailed skimmers.

How long does a black-tailed skimmer live?

It's hard to say for sure. There are some estimates that suggest they can live as long as four years, but there are many factors in play, and not enough evidence has been collected on this creature so far.

How do they reproduce?

The male is responsible for finding an area with water and the female then lays her eggs on top of plants or leaves in this location. The incubation period lasts about 10 days, during which time both parents will be looking out for food sources to provide for their children.

What is their conservation status?

The black-tailed skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum) has the IUCN conservation status of Least Concern.

Black-Tailed Skimmer Fun Facts

What do black-tailed skimmers look like?

The black-tailed skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum) has an unmistakable appearance with a glossy black tip and yellow spots on its wings. They are covered in black stripes running around their blue abdomen to protect them from predators while they eat insects off the surface of water or try to catch larger prey during the mating season! The male black-tailed skimmer has bright medium-sized yellow spots and the abdomen is powder blue in color. These dragonflies love to rest in the sun in the gravel pits they call home.

The male black-tailed skimmer dragonfly has black stripes running through its medium-sized body with a black tip and a yellow-blue abdomen.

How cute are they?

Black-tailed skimmers are small, speedy insects that thrive in streams and ponds. When they're in flight, trying to capture a tasty meal, or when they are doing their own kind backstroke through water filled with plants, these tiny skimmers look absolutely adorable!

How do they communicate?

One of the most fascinating sights in nature is watching a group of black-tailed skimmers as they communicate with each other. One will take off from its spot on shore and fly to meet another who has just landed, touching wings briefly before flying onward to greet yet more members of their group.

How big is a black-tailed skimmer?

The black-tailed skimmer dragonfly is a small dragonfly that can measure up to only 1.5-2 in (4.5-5.5 cm) in length!

How fast can a black-tailed skimmer fly?

Scientists have been able to test and measure the speeds of some black-tailed skimmers, but there is no consensus on how fast they can fly.

How much does a black-tailed skimmer weigh?

The black-tailed skimmer is a small black dragonfly. These dragonflies only weigh 0.04-0.08 lb (20-40 g).

What are their male and female names of the species?

The male goes by the name male black-tailed skimmer and for females, it's a female black-tailed skimmer.! Both species love to rest in the sun, deep in their medium-sized gravel pits!

What would you call a baby black-tailed skimmer?

Their babies are known as skimmer hatchlings.

What do they eat?

A  black-tailed skimmer dragonfly loves to munch on small insects, like garden spiders, and wheel bugs.

Are they dangerous?

The black-tailed skimmer dragonfly is not at all dangerous. These bugs (both mature and immature, males and females) don't do anything besides fly around and eat mosquitoes, showing off their beautiful powder blue colors!

Would they make a good pet?

These skimmers are shy, but they may perch on your shoulder if you give them a chance. These dragonflies can't be kept as pets as they enjoy spending lots of time outdoors!

Did you know...

This skimmer dragonfly can come in both brown and blue varieties. They are found throughout the world and males of this insect have a long extension on their abdomen that they use to attract females during the mating season. Meanwhile, the female has a large spot near her head that is used for sensing the presence of prey below, including spiders or even frogs!

Different types of skimmer

Skimmer dragonflies have been around for millions of years and come in all shapes, sizes, species, and colors. Each dragonfly has its own unique features.

Do black-tailed skimmers bite?

Since skimmers are not aggressive, they simply fly away when a human approaches them. However, if you harass one enough to make it feel threatened for its safety, then there's no telling what might happen!

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other arthropods from our queen butterfly facts and Gulf fritillary butterfly facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring one on our free printable apollo butterfly coloring pages.



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