A great egret looks for breakfast at Calamvale Creek


Scientific stuff

Fiery skimmer or fiery red dragonfly
Also called a
bog skimmer or
pond skimmer

Orthetrum villosovittatum
Family: Libellulidae
Superfamily: Libelluloidea
Suborder: Anisoptera
Order: Odonata
Class: Insecta or Hexapoda

Medium sized dragonfly. Male has bright red body, brownish thorax, clear wings, red face. Female is not as red, and may be orange-red or yellowish brown, dark eyes, dark orange face.

Body length about 45 millimetres (2 inches).

Fast flyer. Sleeps a lot. Not as skittish as many dragonflies.

Using our photos

Photos on this website are copyright. If you want to use any, email us at: creeklife@gmail.com

Chilli's photos

The photographer spotted Chilli resting on an upright twig on a warm February afternoon at Calamvale Creek.

The photographer said:
“I had had an unsuccessful morning trying to photograph dragonflies. Either I couldn't get close enough to them, or the sun was in the wrong position, or the photos were blurry.

“But in the afternoon I was taking pictures of some bees when Chilli buzzed overhead and landed quite close to me.

“I got numerous photos of him, as he alternated his rest-stops between two plant stems near me, and kept flying back to these for at least five minutes.

“He didn't seem concerned about my presence, unlike many dragonflies I have tried to photograph.

“With his transparent wings covering his face, he looked like a little jet-fighter pilot waiting to take off. Fiery red skimmers — with their bodies the colour of red chilli peppers —are beautiful dragonflies.”

Critters of Calamvale Creek

Chilli, the fiery red skimmer dragonfly

Also called a bog skimmer or pond skimmer

Orthetrum villosovittatum

red_dragonfly_1 (15K)Hi there buzzers. I am Chilli the fiery skimmer, and I love skimming around Calamvale Creek in Brisbane, Australia.

I'm a fast flyer, and particularly like buzzing low over the creek's water, or on open parts around it.

Males red, females orange

red_dragonfly_5 (26K)I have a bright red body, as the males in our species do. But the females of our species are more orange or yellowish brown.

You can see this in the photo at left when my girlfriend Pepper joined me to rest on a stick for a few seconds.

There are seven species of Orthetrum dragonflies in Australia, but our colours and shape vary greatly. There are blues, speckleds, rosies, greens … I have never seen the speckleds or greens because they are not found in Brisbane.

What do I eat?

I mostly hunt down small flying insects. This is doing you a favour, because it stops them spreadng and stinging you. I can catch these insects as I fly.

My legs point forward, and are designed to form a basket that catches prey mid-flight. I may nibble them as I fly, or come back to a stick or perch to finish the meal.

What does my name mean?

red_dragonfly_2 (29K)

My scientific name (Orthetrum villosovittatum) means something like “straight-bodied water prowler with hairy babies”. That fits, because I like flying over water, and when I land on a straw or upright twig I hold on with my legs and keep my body stiff and straight pointing out at about a 45 degree angle from the straw. (As in the photo above.)

The “hairy” part of my name applies to our freshwater young in the larval stage. When they start life, our larvae are a dirty grey — and they are hairy! Their bodies are pointed, and they have spines half-way along their back.

My wings

red_dragonfly_3 (17K)We dragonflies can't fold our wings back over our abdomen like most other flying insects.

When I rest, I keep my wings outstretched to the side, or bent forward (as in the photo) to protect my face from the wind, or to form a cup in case some small, unsuspecting stinging critter accidentally flies into the cup. It won't get out!

Where do I like to perch?

You won't find me far from water, and I like to rest on water grasses, fine branches, twigs, logs, and sticks.

I am also called a bog skimmer or pond skimmer, which implies I like hovering close to bogs and ponds. I'm not always found low to the ground though. The photos on this page were taken when I was perched on a bush about three metres (10 feet) above the ground.

Have to fly!

— Chilli the fiery skimmer dragonfly