The Dragonflies and Damselflies of North Carolina
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North Carolina's 189 Odonate species

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Sort Species by: Family   Scientific Name       [ Undocumented ]
Related Species in LIBELLULIDAE: Number of records for 2024-00-00 = 3
Added in 2024-00-00 from a previous year = 1

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e.g., flight data, high counts, and earliest/latest dates can be seen.
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Twelve-spotted Skimmer (Libellula pulchella) by Beth Brinson
Compare with:   Distinctive
Identification Tips: Move the cursor over the image, or tap the image if using a mobile device, to reveal ID Tips.
Note: these identification tips apply specifically to mature males; features may differ in immature males and in females.

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Click on county for list of all its records for Twelve-spotted Skimmer
Flight Charts
Distribution A partly migratory species. Mountains, Piedmont, and western half of the Coastal Plain; seemingly absent in the eastern 40-50% of the Coastal Plain, as there are no records east of Gates, Pitt, Lenoir, and Onslow counties -- other than an iNaturalist photo record in August 2023 from the Dare County Outer Banks. Resident only in the mountains and parts of the western Piedmont; rather seasonal (mostly spring and fall only) in the eastern half of the state.
Abundance Uncommon to locally fairly common in the mountains. Very uncommon in the Piedmont as a whole, though a migrant through much of the province, and in the eastern portions can be rather rare and is not resident there. A rare migrant in the western half of the Coastal Plain, where seen mainly in fall migration; extremely rare migrant/stray in the eastern Coastal Plain.
Flight In the mountains, where it is a resident (though some records might refer to migrants), the flight is from late April to late September, rarely to mid-October. The Piedmont set of flight dates is from very late April to mid-October, with a stray record for early November. The fact that there is a clear dip in records in midsummer in the Piedmont flight chart is a strong indication that the species is mainly a migrant, seen mostly in spring/early summer and late summer/fall. In the Coastal Plain, where migratory, the dates range from mid-May to mid-October, with most being from late August into October.
Habitat Ponds, lakes, and marshes, typically in open situations; may oviposit in small, temporary pools.

See also Habitat Account for General Pond Shorelines
Behavior Males are very conspicuous as they patrol, often hovering, over their pools and ponds. Adults are similar to other skimmers in that they often forage well away from water in fields and wooded borders.
Comments Much is still to be learned about its biology in NC. This species is one of the few dragonflies that is partly migratory in the state. Individuals appear in the Coastal Plain and in much of the Piedmont at sites away from breeding waters, often where observers are quite familiar with the general area. Plus, they are seen mainly in spring or late summer/fall. The female looks quite similar to the female Common Whitetail and thus could be overlooked. However, adult males are very conspicuous and elicit much excitement when seen, because of their "snazzy" appearance and relative scarcity in NC.
State Rank S4
State Status
Global Rank G5
Federal Status
Other Name
Species account update: LeGrand on 2024-01-10 14:39:03

Photo Gallery for Twelve-spotted Skimmer   32 photos are available.
Only the most recent 30 are shown.
Other NC Galleries:    Jeff Pippen    Will Cook    Ted Wilcox
Photo 1 by: Jeffrey Pippen

Comment: Durham, 2024-04-17, Power line right of way
Photo 2 by: George Andrews

Comment: Union, 2023-09-04, Cane Creek Park Lake, Union County east marsh - County first?
Photo 3 by: Paul Hart

Comment: Harnett; C, 2023-06-05, Patriots Park at Ponderosa County Park - Male
Photo 4 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Onslow, 2022-09-25, Stones Creek Game Land - male. First record for county
Photo 5 by: Skylar Davis

Comment: Alamance, 2022-08-14, Cates Farm Park, Mebane - Female
Photo 6 by: Harry LeGrand, Lori Arent

Comment: Granville, 2021-05-20, Butner powerline clearing - female; photo by Lori Arent
Photo 7 by: p dixon

Comment: Madison, 2021-05-15, Hot Springs area
Photo 8 by: B. Bockhahn

Comment: Rowan, 2021-04-30,
Photo 9 by: B. Bockhahn

Comment: Stokes, 2019-08-20, Hanging Rock State Park, Vade Mecum area
Photo 10 by: John Petranka, Jim Petranka and party.

Comment: Avery, 2019-05-21, Pond on private property that adjoins the Blue Ridge Parkway in southern Avery County. - Male.
Photo 11 by: p dixon

Comment: Madison, 2019-05-21, Hot Springs area
Photo 12 by: Mike Turner

Comment: Wilkes; P, 2018-09-22, W. Kerr Scott Dam and Reservoir; from dam to ~1000' downstream
Photo 13 by: John Petranka, Sally Gewalt

Comment: Orange, 2018-09-20, Brumley Forest Preserve, North side of NC 10 at silo pond. - Male.
Photo 14 by: Mike Turner

Comment: Forsyth, 2018-07-02, Tanglewood Park - adult male
Photo 15 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Jackson, 2018-06-25, Pond beside Breedlove Road, 5 km northeast of Cashiers - First record for county
Photo 16 by: Barbara McRae

Comment: Macon, 2018-06-09, Wetland area near Little Tennessee River, Franklin
Photo 17 by: Mike Turner

Comment: Watauga, 2018-06-02, Brookshire Park; Boone - adult males
Photo 18 by: Guy McGrane

Comment: Ashe, 2017-07-18, Pond Mountain Game Land, at one of the ponds on top of the mountain. Including photo just for verification - Male
Photo 19 by: M. Tschopp

Comment: Wake, 2015-08-16, North Wake Landfill District Park
Photo 20 by: Steve Hall and Harry LeGrand

Comment: Northampton, 2012-05-17, Roanoke River Wetlands Game Land, along both sides of US 258 north of the Roanoke River - female
Photo 21 by: Vin Stanton, Janie Owens, Gail Lankford

Comment: Haywood, 2011-08-13, Cataloochee Valley, Great Smoky Mountains NP - Male
Photo 22 by: Curtis Smalling

Comment: Watauga, 2011-06-10, Meat Camp Creek Environmental Studies Area
Photo 23 by: Doug Johnston

Comment: Buncombe, 2011-06-05, - Leicester patch
Photo 24 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Pender, 2010-10-13, Holly Shelter Game Land - apparent first record for Pender Co.
Photo 25 by: Doug Johnston

Comment: Buncombe, 2010-06-08, - Leicester patch
Photo 26 by: Curtis Smalling

Comment: Watauga, 2010-05-26, Meat Camp Creek Environmental Studies Area
Photo 27 by: Vin Stanton

Comment: Henderson, 2009-09-24, Fletcher Park
Photo 28 by: Vin Stanton

Comment: Buncombe, 2009-09-13, Beaver Lake, Asheville
Photo 29 by: Beth Brinson

Comment: Alleghany, 2009-06-27, Blue Ridge Parkway, Male
Photo 30 by: Ted Wilcox

Comment: Ashe, 2005-09-07, male