World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Common whitetail

Article Id: WHEBN0000763237
Reproduction Date:

Title: Common whitetail  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Libellulidae, Libellula, Dragonfly, WikiProject Insects/Popular pages
Collection: Insects Described in 1773, Libellulidae
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Common whitetail

Common whitetail
Adult male
Adult female
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Odonata
Suborder: Anisoptera
Family: Libellulidae
Genus: Plathemis
Species: P. lydia
Binomial name
Plathemis lydia
(Drury, 1773)
Synonyms
  • Libellula lydia

The common whitetail or long-tailed skimmer (Plathemis lydia) is a common dragonfly across much of North America, with a striking and unusual appearance. The male's chunky white body (about 5 cm long), combined with the brownish-black bands on its otherwise translucent wings, give it a checkered look. Females have a brown body and a different pattern of wing spots, closely resembling that of female Libellula pulchella, the twelve-spotted skimmer. Whitetail females can be distinguished by their smaller size, shorter bodies, and white zigzag abdominal stripes; the abdominal stripes of L. puchella are straight and yellow.[1]

Immature male

The common whitetail can be seen hawking for mosquitoes and other small flying insects over ponds, marshes, and slow-moving rivers in most regions except the higher mountain regions. Periods of activity vary between regions; for example in California, the adults are active from April to September.[2]

Like all perchers, common whitetails often rest on objects near the water, and sometimes on the ground. Males are territorial, holding a 10 to 30 metre stretch of the water's edge, and patrolling it to drive off other males. The white pruinescence on the abdomen, found only in mature males, is displayed to other males as a territorial threat.[3]

The nymphs are dark green or brown, but are usually found covered in algae. They feed on aquatic invertebrates such as mayfly larvae and small crayfish, and also on small aquatic vertebrates such as tadpoles and minnows. Because of their abundance, whitetail naiads are in turn an important food source for various fish, frogs, and birds, and also for other aquatic insects.

Some authorities classify the whitetails, including the common whitetail, in genus Libellula rather than Plathemis. This matter has been debated at least since the end of the nineteenth century. Recent molecular systematics evidence suggests that separation of the whitetails from the rest of Libellula may be appropriate.

Additional Images

References

  1. ^ Dunkle, Sidney W. (2000). Dragonflies through Binoculars. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 171–172.  
  2. ^ Mead, Kurt. (2009) Dragonflies of the North Woods, Second Edition, Duluth, MN:Kollath+Stensaas Publ.
  3. ^ Johnson, Clifford (1962). "A Study of Territoriality and Breeding Behavior in Pachydiplax longipennis Burmeister (Odonata:Libellulidae)". The Southwestern Naturalist (Southwestern Association of Naturalists) 7 (3/4): 191–197.  

External links

"Plathemis lydia".

 

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.