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Common Whitetail Skimmer (Libellula lydia)

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

 Updated: 2/22/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©

  Common Whitetail Skimmer  
Picture of Common-Whitetail-Skimmer
Picture of Common-Whitetail-Skimmer Picture of Common-Whitetail-SkimmerPicture of Common-Whitetail-SkimmerPicture of Common-Whitetail-SkimmerPicture of Common-Whitetail-Skimmer

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.

Picture of the Common Whitetail Skimmer
Picture of the Common Whitetail Skimmer

Common Whitetail Skimmer Information

Category: Dragonfly or Damselfly
Common Name: Common Whitetail Skimmer
Scientific Name: Libellula lydia

Taxonomy Hierarchy

 Arrow graphic Kingdom: Animalia
  Arrow graphic Phylum: Arthropoda
   Arrow graphic Class: Insecta
    Arrow graphic Order: Odonata
     Arrow graphic Family: Libellulidae
      Arrow graphic Genus: Libellula
       Arrow graphic Species: lydia

Size, Identifying Tags and Territorial Reach

Size (Adult, Length): Size (Adult, Length): 60 mm to 75 mm (2.34 inches to 2.925 inches)
Identifying Colors: brown; white; black; yellow
Additional Descriptors: hairy, flying, dragonfly, powdery

North American Territorial Reach (Though Not Limited To): Alabama; Alaska; Arizona; Arkansas; California; Colorado; Connecticut; Delaware; 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; Alberta; British Columbia; Manitoba; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec; Saskatchewan; Mexico

A Note About Territorial Reach: Keep in mind that 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. Insects are driven by environmental factors, food supplies and mating patterns and do not nescessarily work within hard-and-fast territorial lines like we humans do.

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