Common Name: Four-spotted Chaser.
Scientific Name: Libellula Quadrimaculata.
What to look for? Found early in summer, the Four-spotted Chaser (or Skimmer) is a medium-sized and somewhat broad-bodied dragonﬂy. Males and females are similar in appearance - golden-brown but getting darker towards the tip of the body with yellow spots along the sides. The thorax and abdomen are densely covered with short hairs. The upper side of the thorax and abdominal segments 1 through 6 are bright yellowish-brown, while abdominal segments 7 through 10 are black. Each abdominal segment has two narrow yellow spots that form a continuous stripe on each side of the abdomen. The leading edge of each wing has a broad amber streak with yellow veins, a small black spot at the notch in the middle, and a dark stigma near the end. The base of each hindwing - where the wing attaches to the thorax - has a triangular black patch with yellow veins. Otherwise, the wings are clear. The Four-spotted Chaser has a yellow face with brown eyes that meet at the top of the head.
Where can they be found at Carillon Stonegate Pond? The Four-spotted Chaser will be found here from May to September. They are mostly found low among vegetation near or at the shore of Carillon Stonegate Ponds.
How big are they? The Four-spotted Chaser averages approximately 1 ¾ inches in length with the abdomen being one inch. And their wingspan is approximately three (3) inches.
What are their flight patterns? Four-spotted Chasers are powerful and tireless fliers - flying almost constantly.
How else do they behave? An adult Four-spotted Chaser may survive for only a few months, so feeding and mating behaviors are paramount. Adults perch on the top of taller emergent vegetation, twigs, or weeds, typically far from water. From their perch, they launch themselves to attack prey and then they return to the same perch. Four-spotted Chasers sometimes forage in swarms over land or water. Males are known to aggressively defend their territory.
What’s for dinner? Four-spotted Chaser adults eat small flying insects that they hunt from perches, flying out and nabbing insects in the air. During their nymph development stage, they feed on aquatic invertebrates and tiny fish.
Where do they take up residence? The Four-spotted Chaser is found in the northern half of North America as well as areas in Asia and Europe. Four-spotted Chasers reside in a variety of wetlands, but prefer small well-vegetated marshy lakes, bogs, and ponds.
When and where do they breed and nest? Four-spotted Chasers copulate very briefly while in flight. The female will commence oviposition in flight by tapping at or dipping the water with the tip of their abdomen. With this action, she releases thousands of eggs that sink down and then stick to plants. The male will generally “hover guard” to protect her from both rival males and females. The eggs turn brown and hatch over the next several weeks. For the next two years, the nymphs live underwater among plant debris, where they grow. When they are fully developed, they leave the water and shed their skins. They emerge as winged adults on vegetation by the pond’s edge.
Where do they migrate? No.
Do they make any interesting sounds? No.
Interesting Facts About the Four-spotted Chaser:
The Four-spotted Chaser (or Skimmer) is the state insect of Alaska.
While known in Europe as the Four-spotted Chaser, in North America it is known as the Four-spotted Skimmer.
For more information on the Four-spotted Chaser and sources of information used in this blog (these are the several of the sources that I am using to learn as I blog), please visit Bug Lady at University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Field Station, Montana Field Guide, Minnesota Seasons, iNaturalist, and Royal Entomological Society’s Insect Week.
The Carillon at Stonegate community is very fortunate to have a variety of wetland, forest and prairie environments conducive to a variety of birds and other wildlife, insects and plants. Our community and the Kane County Forest Preserve do an exceptional job in maintaining this natural environment – both for the benefit of the birds and wildlife and for our residents to enjoy.
Take a hike and see what you can find – and identify!