Chilli, the fiery red skimmer dragonfly
Also called a bog skimmer or pond skimmer
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
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?
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.
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