Common Whitetail Dragonfly

Common Name - Common Whitetail Dragonfly

Category - Insects

ScientificName - Libellula lydia

Kingdom - Animalia

Phylum - Arthropoda

Class - Insecta

Order - Odonata

Family - Libellulidae

Genus - Libellula

Species - lydia


Description - Stocky, brown dragonfly with clear, black-banded wings and brown eyes; males with chalky white abdomen (last segment of body); female’s abdomen brown with two light yellow side stripes; perch with body and wings horizontal on ground or low-lying plant stems

Size - 1.7 in. (4.32 cm) long

Ecological Role - Dragonflies are carnivores, eating other animals. They are important predators in aquatic habitats in both the nymph and adult stages. They are fantastic fliers, able to swerve, dive, and quickly change directions to catch flying insects in mid-air. Birds, frogs, fish, and other dragonflies eat whitetail dragonflies.

Fun Facts - The whitetail dragonfly is one of the most common dragonflies in Kentucky. When the dragonfly sees its prey, it flies off of its perch and swoops like a hawk to catch it. It will then return to the same twig on which it was perched. The nymphs are somewhat tolerant of pollution and low oxygen levels, so they are considered biological indicators of pond health. Dragonflies of the Family Libellulidae are called skimmers because of the female’s egg laying habits, as described under Life Cycle.

Food - Flies, midges, ants, butterflies, and other insects





Habitat - Muddy-bottomed, slow-moving shallow water; ponds and streams

Kentucky Distribution - Statewide

Life Cycle - Three stages: egg, nymph, and adult; during summer, males hover over egg-laying females and guard a territory up to 180 square yards (150.5 square meters), agressive males raise their abdomen as a threat display while the submissive males lower their abdomen; eggs laid in flight as female skims water’s surface, hence, the common name skimmer; adults live less than two months, may take one or more years to complete all life stages

Life Span

Life Stage - Adult


Seasonal Changes - The whitetail dragonfly overwinters under water while in the nymph stage, then crawl to land in late spring where they molt into the adult form.


Status - Abundant




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Diagnosis and Control

Interesting Facts

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