Male common whitetail dragonfly (Plathemis lydia)
I'm always somewhat embarrassed by any plant or animal that has been labeled "common." It's such a degrading moniker: common yellowthroat, common grackle, common sandpiper, common dandelion, common bladderwort, etc. Where's the respect? It suggests some sort of banality that simply doesn't exist.
But needless to say, the dragonfly known as common whitetail is widespread and ubiquitous. The females have brown abdomens with white spots down the flanks, while the males have solid white bodies, chalky like powered donuts. Both genders have dark bands on their otherwise transparent wings.
Once known as simply as mosquito hawks, dragonflies are environmentally beneficial because the eat lots of small flying insects, especially mosquitoes.
Their scientific name: Plathemis lydia does pique my curiosity. I wonder who was Lydia?
At Ijams, look for them throughout the park, especially near any of the ponds.
- Story and photo by Stephen Lyn Bales.