A mature male Blue-Tailed Yellow Skimmer, also known as Asian Widow (Palpopleura sexmaculata) shot in the Periyar Tiger Reserve. This is undoubtedly the smallest species of dragonfly I’ve photographed, scaling it at close to under an inch long. The dragonfly’s abdomen is unique – not only in length, but in breadth and shape. The Trumpet-Tail is another uniquely-abdomened dragonfly I’ve spotted in Periyar – pictures of her next time.
For some reference to size, here’s a short anecdote: when I was walking in the reserve with the express objective of photographing dragonflies, I was in a field with several small streams running through it. Streams and standing water are the ideal breeding grounds for odonates, and they can be found flying some distance away from their place of origin. As I was walking through the field, I was noticing many species I had never seen before, as well as legions of different grasshoppers, crickets, and assorted insects. When I first saw the female skimmer, which is similar to the one pictured above except for her abdomen being yellow and black, I actually thought she was a wasp or bee. However, I was fortunate enough to have a guide with very sharp eyes and an even more avid interest in dragonflies than mine, and he spotted that it was in fact a dragonfly. Despite my best efforts, she was able to speed away before I was able to get a good shot, and I was unable to find the highly camouflaged insect in the field again. Fortunately, there were plenty of other species to make up for the loss.