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 ©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.