Golden-winged Skimmer

Libellula auripennis Burmeister, 1839

Jeffrey S. Pippen

Insecta (Insects)
Libellulidae (Skimmers)
State Protection
Not Listed
Not listed or protected by New York State.
Federal Protection
Not Listed
State Conservation Status Rank
Critically Imperiled or Imperiled in New York - Especially or very vulnerable to disappearing from New York due to rarity or other factors; typically 20 or fewer populations or locations in New York, very few individuals, very restricted range, few remaining acres (or miles of stream), and/or steep declines. More information is needed to assign either S1 or S2.
Global Conservation Status Rank
Secure globally - Common in the world; widespread and abundant (but may be rare in some parts of its range).


Did you know?

Dragonflies of the genus Libellula are known as King Skimmers and are the dominant dragonflies at most ponds (Dunkle 2000).

State Ranking Justification

The Golden-winged Skimmer is known to occur in three locations in Suffolk County and one location in Orange County. Population estimates have not been determined. Further survey efforts may result in the identification of additional populations or range expansions and may enable population sizes to be determined.

Short-term Trends

No estimate of population size has been made for the Golden-winged Skimmer based on observations from 1995 to present (New York Natural Heritage Program 2007). Information prior to this time frame is limited. Therefore, any new location information on the Golden-winged Skimmer in New York may reflect heightened interest in surveying for this species rather than a population increase or a range expansion (Holst 2005).

Long-term Trends

Four recent observations of Golden-winged Skimmers have been made in Suffolk and Orange Counties since 1995 and one provisional record exists from 1937 in Cattaragus County (Donnelly 1999, New York Natural Heritage Program 2007). Since there is limited historical information, few recent records, and the full extent and size of the populations have not been determined, long-term trends are unclear.

Conservation and Management


Any activity which might lead to water contamination or the alteration of natural hydrology could impact Golden-winged Skimmer populations. As this species is known to occur in coastal plain ponds on Long Island, such threats might include "ditching, filling, eutrophication and changes in dissolved oxygen content, direct effects of pesticides (e.g. for mosquito control or from agricultural runoff), and other chemical contamination from runoff or discharge of agricultural, industrial, or urban effluent" (Holst 2005).

Conservation Strategies and Management Practices

Any measures to reduce water contamination or hydrological alteration such as chemical contamination from agricultural run-off should be considered when managing for this species (Holst 2005).

Research Needs

Further research is required to understand the habitat requirements and threats to this species, and to create appropriate management guidelines for its persistence in known locations (Holst 2005).



Golden-winged Skimmers inhabit coastal plain ponds on Long Island (Dunkle 2000, Nikula et al. 2003, New York Natural Heritage Program, 2007). Larvae are aquatic and found in the water during this lifestage, whereas adults are terrestrial and are found in habitats surrounding ponds.

Associated Ecological Communities

  • Coastal plain pond (guide)
    The aquatic community of the permanently flooded portion of a coastal plain pond with seasonally, and annually fluctuating water levels. These are shallow, groundwater-fed ponds that occur in kettle-holes or shallow depressions in the outwash plains south of the terminal moraines of Long Island, and New England. A series of coastal plain ponds are often hydrologically connected, either by groundwater, or sometimes by surface flow in a small coastal plain stream.
  • Coastal plain pond shore (guide)
    The gently sloping shore of a coastal plain pond with seasonally and annually fluctuating water levels. Plants growing on the pond shore vary with water levels. In dry years when water levels are low there is often a dense growth of annual sedges, grasses, and herbs. Submerged and floating-leaved aquatic plants, such as fragrant waterlily and pondweeds, may become "stranded" on the exposed shore. In wet years when the water level is high only a few emergents and floating-leaved aquatics may be noticeable. T


New York State Distribution

The Golden-winged Skimmer has been confirmed from Orange and Suffolk counties. There is a provisional observation of this species in Cattaraugus County as well, as the specimen had no specific associated data and was very teneral or freshly emerged (Donnelly 1999, New York Natural Heritage Program, 2007).

Global Distribution

The Golden-winged Skimmer is distributed across the northeastern United States south to Florida and west to Texas and into Mexico. It has a total known range from Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia (Abbott 2007).

Best Places to See

  • Coastal plain ponds (Suffolk County)

Identification Comments

Identifying Characteristics

Adult Golden-winged Skimmers are about 2.0 inches long with reddish-brown eyes. Adult males have an orange-brown face and thorax and a bright orange abdomen with a black dorsal (top) stripe. Their wing veins become orange from the front to the rear of the wing and the stigma (a blood-filled blister near the tip of the wing) is red. Females and immature males have a brown face and thorax. They have two pale stripes on the sides of the thorax and a broad white mid-dorsal stripe on the thorax as well. They have a yellow abdomen with a black dorsal stripe and yellow tinged wings with yellow stigmas (Dunkle 2000, Nikula et al. 2003).


Female Golden-winged Skimmers oviposit (lay eggs) by tapping the tips of their abdomens onto the surface of the water while simultaneously releasing eggs (Nikula et al. 2003). Adults of both sexes forage in open fields. Males perch on the tops of plant stems in foraging fields, while females generally perch half-way down the stems (Dunkle 2000). Males are territorial and will defend areas along pond shores or over open water (Nikula et al. 2003).


Golden-winged Skimmer larvae feed on smaller aquatic invertebrates and adults feed on insects which they capture in flight.

Best Time to See

Adult Golden-winged Skimmers have been found in New York from June through mid July, but could possibly be seen into early September (Nikula et al. 2003, New York Natural Heritage Program, 2007).

  • Present
  • Reproducing

The time of year you would expect to find Golden-winged Skimmer present and reproducing in New York.

Similar Species

  • Needham's Skimmer (Libellula needhami) (guide)
    The abdomen and face of the male Libellula needhami is more red than that of the Golden-winged Skimmer (Dunkle 2000). In addition, the tibia (or middle segment) of the hind legs are pale brown on the Needham's Skimmer and black on the Golden-winged Skimmer. The posterior (rear) half of the wings are suffused with orange-yellow on the Golden-winged Skimmer with an orange-yellow leading edge basally, while the anterior (front) portion of the wings on Needham's Skimmer are red-orange with a brownish leading edge basally (Nikula et at. 2003).

Golden-winged Skimmer Images


Golden-winged Skimmer
Libellula auripennis Burmeister, 1839

  • Kingdom Animalia
    • Phylum Arthropoda (Mandibulates)
      • Class Insecta (Insects)
        • Order Odonata (Dragonflies and Damselflies)
          • Family Libellulidae (Skimmers)

Additional Resources


Abbott, J.C. 2007. OdonataCentral: An online resource for the odonata of North America. Austin, Texas. Available at (accessed February 28, 2007).

Donnelly, T. W. 1992. The odonata of New York State. Bulletin of American Odonatology. 1(1):1-27.

Donnelly, T.W. 1999. The dragonflies and damselflies of New York. Prepared for the 1999 International Congress of Odonatology and First Symposium of the Worldwide Dragonfly Association. July 11-16, 1999. Colgate University, Hamilton, New York. 39 pp.

Donnelly, T.W. 2004. The Odonata of New York State. Unpublished data. Binghamton, NY.

Dunkle, S.W. 2000. Dragonflies through binoculars: A field guide to dragonflies of North America. Oxford University Press: 266 pp.

Mead, K. 2003. Dragonflies of the North Woods. Kollath-Stensaas Publishing, Duluth, MN. 2003 pp.

Needham, J.G., M.J. Westfall, Jr., and M.L. May. 2000. Dragonflies of North America. Revised edition. Scientific Publishers, Gainesville, Florida. 939 pp.

New York Natural Heritage Program. 2007. Biotics Database. Albany, NY.

New York Natural Heritage Program. 2024. New York Natural Heritage Program Databases. Albany, NY.

New York Natural Heritage Program. No date. New York dragonfly and damselfly survey database. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Albany, NY.

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. 2005. Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy Planning Database. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Albany, NY.

Nikula, B., J.L. Loose, and M.R. Burne. 2003. A field guide to the dragonflies and damselflies of Massachusetts. Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, Westborough, MA. 197 pp.


About This Guide

Information for this guide was last updated on: December 5, 2007

Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2024. Online Conservation Guide for Libellula auripennis. Available from: Accessed May 26, 2024.