The medium-sized, short, fat Dragonflies!

There are five species of Chaser and Skimmer in Britain and with four out of five having males that are blue when mature, they can be confusing.

How to tell if it's a Chaser or Skimmer: are there dark triangles in the base of the hind wings?

Yes = Chaser species

No = Skimmer

 

Male Chasers and Skimmers

 

 

1: Broad-bodied Chaser (by Pete Beard). 2:  Black-tailed Skimmer (by Tim Coleshaw). 3: Scarce Chaser (by Val Perrin). 4: Keeled Skimmer (by Iain Leach). 5: Four-spotted Chaser (by Andrew Holloway).

 

Female Chasers and Skimmers

1: Broad-bodied Chaser (by Steve Plume). 2: Four-spotted Chaser (by Andrew Holloway). 3: Scarce Chaser (by Iain Leach). 4: Black-tailed Skimmer (by Dave Mitchell). 5: Keeled Skimmer (by  Philphotosite, flickr).

Broad-bodied Chaser

Large, dark brown markings at the base of all four wings.

Mature males are blue.

Credit: Val Perrin

Females and immature males are brown and gold.

 

Broad-bodied Chaser female © David Kitching

Credit David Kitching

Four-spotted Chaser

They have an extra four dark marks on their wings; these are the spots seen midway along the leading edge of each wing.

Credit David Kitching

Sometimes these marks are exaggerated in a form known as praenubila.

Credit Neil Malton

Both sexes have similar brown, black and yellow markings.

Credit Michael Bamford

Scarce Chasers

Small dark marks in the wing bases; you need to look carefully to see them.

Mature males are blue, with blue eyes and a small amount of black at the tip of the abdomen.

Credit Val Perrin

Females and immature males are orange with inverted black triangles down the centre of the abdomen. Females also often have dark smudges at the wing tips.

 

Credit Val Perrin

 

Black-tailed Skimmer

Similar in size to the Chasers.

Mature males are blue, with greenish eyes and a noticeable black tip to the abdomen.

Credit Bruce Hyde

Females and immature males are yellow with two black lines running the length of the abdomen.

 

Credit Dave Mitchell

Keeled Skimmers

Keeled Skimmers have a restricted and scattered distribution, being found mainly on wet heathlands.

Small compared to other Chasers and Skimmers; they are actually similar in size to Darters.

Mature males have an almost entirely blue abdomen, with a thin black line, or keel, down the centre.

 

 

Credit Iain Leach

Females and immature males are ochre with a black keel down the abdomen.

Females in particular can easily be mistaken for a female Darter at first glance. Look for the pale shoulder stripes and pale veins near the front of the wings in Keeled Skimmer females.

 

 

Credit Christian Fischer

 

Title image: Female Scarce Chaser by Iain Leach