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Wandering Glider (Pantala flavescens)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Wandering Glider

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Image Credit: Barry M., taken in Lowndes County, GA
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The hardy Wandering Glider is found on almost every continent on Earth, weathering all sorts of storms and covering long distances in flight.

Updated: 06/19/2023; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Wind is a good friend to the Wandering Glider. This dragonfly uses air currents to do most of the aerial work for it and can stay in the air for hours before resting. When they do land, one can see their markings and coloring for a clear identification. The abdomen is yellow, though in males it may be more orange-red. Fine black lines cross the abdomen and a black line down the dorsal side ('spine') swells a bit in each segment. Clear wings each have one yellow-brown cell at the upper edge, resembling a tiny fragment of stained glass. Adults can fly in swarms with other adults, and even among other dragonfly species, as they feed on flying insects.

Mating is done while in flight. Females lay fertilized eggs in ponds, temporary puddles left by rain (hence the alternative name of Rainpool Glider), and swimming pools. Reflective surfaces like car hoods and wet asphalt are mistaken for water and females have been seen trying to lay eggs on them. Naiads (juveniles) spend this early life stage in the water feeding on aquatic insects and plankton. They crawl onto land when ready to molt into winged adults. They can survive dry spells on land, further attesting to this species' resilience.

Look for adults flying a few meters above ponds at the banks of other bodies of water. They also rest on low-growing plants and reeds with a vertical abdomen and wings spread open. They migrate to warmer regions when weather cools and are active year-round in the tropics. ©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Striped or banded insect icon

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Odonata
        Family: Libellulidae
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          Genus: Pantala
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            Species: flavescens

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Pantala flavescens
Other Name(s): Globe Skimmer, Globe Wanderer, Golden Glider, Rainpool Glider
Category: Dragonfly or Damselfly
Size (Adult; Length): 44mm to 51mm (1.73" to 2.00")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: yellow; orange; red; black
Descriptors: lines; yellow; flying

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 44mm (1.7in) and 51mm (2.0in)
Lo: 44mm
Md: 47.5mm
Hi: 51mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Wandering Glider may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Wandering Glider. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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