Carmine vs Roseate Skimmers

Two large pink/purple skimmers have been recorded in Arizona: one (Roseate Skimmer) is common and the other (Carmine Skimmer, Orthemis discolor) is a rare vagrant. Both species are of same sizes and behave similarly. In northern Mexico they are often seen together and occur in a wide variety of habitats. The distribution of the Carmine Skimmer in Texas is increasing (Paulson 2009) and in the future this species may also be found with increasing frequency in Arizona.

To separate mature male Roseate and Carmine Skimmers, focus on the eye and face colors and on the thorax color pattern.

Male Comparison

Eye and face color

  • Carmine Skimmer: eyes and face red, more or less of the same color as the thorax and abdomen.
  • Roseate Skimmer: eyes and face dark purple


  • Carmine Skimmer: thorax bright and uniformly red
  • Roseate Skimmer: thorax pink, becomes pruinose and purplish. Note that the thorax color pattern of immature males resembles that of females and lacks pink. Mature males often retain thoracic dark spots

Wing color

  • Carmine Skimmer: Wing veins uniformly dark
  • Roseate Skimmer: Some wing veins red-yellow