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Common Whitetail Skimmer (Libellula lydia)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Common Whitetail Skimmer.

 Updated: 2/22/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.InsectIdentification.org




The Common Whitetail Skimmer is a popular sight in summer, sporting a chalky white tail and an affinity for aerial acrobatics.



Common White Skimmers are a type of dragonfly. Males develop a white powdery substance on the abdomen called pruinosity. The long abdomen is used to defend territory against intruding males. As a challenger approaches a border, the resident male warns him by raising his white tail at the intruder. Females have a brown abdomen, and are noticeably different in appearance from males. They are more slender, and the black color pattern on their wings almost appears to be the inverse of the male pattern.

Females release their fertilized eggs into the water, near still shorelines, by dipping their abdomen under water several times. Larvae hatch and remain underwater feeding on other small aquatic insects. These naiads (juveniles) can spend months or years feasting and growing. They crawl out of the water and molt into a winged adult and begin their new life on land.

Common Whitetail Skimmers hover over standing or slow water like ponds, creeks, streams, marshes, and lakes. Adults eat small flying insects like mosquitoes and gnats, making them a welcome natural control for pest insect populations. They are active from spring through autumn. While they are dependent on a water source for the completion of their life cycle, adults have been seen in drier areas near wet habitats.




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Odonata
        Family: Libellulidae
          Genus: Libellula
            Species: lydia
Identifying Information
Scientific Name: Libellula lydia
Category: Dragonfly or Damselfly
Size (Adult; Length): 60mm to 75mm (2.34in to 2.93in)
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown; white; black; yellow
Descriptors: hairy, flying, dragonfly, powdery
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Territorial Reach (A-to-Z)
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
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Alberta
British Columbia
Manitoba
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia
Ontario
Prince Edward Island
Quebec
Saskatchewan
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Mexico
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.