A male Neon Skimmer, Libellula croceipennis, rests on the remains of a dead branch. Easy to spot because of their large size and eye-popping color, these common, gorgeous dragonflies are active in summer as they breed, fly, and munch mosquitoes. Neon Skimmers live near ponds and streams, with males defending their territories. Both males and females zip through my garden, almost always near the pond in the back garden. This one is an outlier: he perched in the front garden, where no water is immediately available. Perhaps he wished to warm his wings in the late afternoon autumn sun or maybe he needed a break from the beach.
Females are a paler version of the vibrant males. As they lay eggs in our pond, they hover above the gently moving water. Curling their abdomens to the water, they dip a bit of that water with their eggs. The eggs are then deposited on watery solid surfaces, like lily pads or bits of algae, or at the edge of the pond where water meets land. Their movements are undulating, the process graceful and mesmerizing.
As summer has ended and autumn is well underway, the life cycle of these garden companions draws to a close. I’ll see these insects for a few more weeks, then not at all until April or May. They always bring a smile, especially on that day, in spring, when I spot them for the first time of the year.