Pond Dragons

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Published on: Jul. 2, 2000

Last revision: Nov. 5, 2010

parts of streams.

Newly emerged adults tend to fly toward fields and woodland edges, where they spend about two weeks feeding and maturing before returning to the water. Widow skimmers often perch vertically about halfway up plant stems. Females fly up and down, dipping the end of their abdomen into the water to wash their eggs. Males hover above egg-depositing females.

The common whitetail, Libelulla lydia, is easy to find. Males and females have different color patterns on the wings that may lead you to believe they are different species. The males have an elongate dark spot at the base and a wide band of dark color across the middle of each wing.

Females have dark spots at the base, middle and tip of each wing. Mature males have a powdery white abdomen, while females and newly emerged males have dark abdomens with light colored dashes along the sides.

Common whitetails are up to 2 inches long with a wingspan of just over 2 inches. They live in all 48 states, several Canadian provinces and south into Mexico. The juveniles live in ponds and lakes of all sizes, as well as in the slower parts of streams.

They seem to prefer to land on flat ground, roads or boat docks. It's easy to walk up on them slowly and take a good look. Mating takes only about 3 seconds for the common whitetail.

Twelve-spotted skimmers, Libelulla pulchella, also are common. They have three dark spots on each wing-a total of 12. Males and females are similar in color, but mature males have white spots between the dark ones on the wings, while the abdomens of females are dark with a continuous line of light dashes along the sides. These dragonflies are a little over 2 inches long with a 3-inch wingspan.

Twelve spotted skimmers fly rapidly and change directions quickly. They often fly high, unless defending territory or laying eggs. Twelve-spotted skimmers live throughout the state, as well as in all 48 states and several Canadian provinces.

Eastern pondhawk, Erythemis simplicicollis, females and newly emerged males have green and dark brown bodies. Mature males are blue. They change color starting at the abdomen then progressing forward.

During the summer you can see males that are still green and black, those that are all blue and some that are changing. Both males and females have green eyes. These are medium-size dragonflies about 1 inch long with a 2-inch wingspan.

These dragonflies

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