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Common Whitetail Dragonfly

A common whitetail dragonfly, male.
Bruce Marlin
/
Wikimedia Commons
Bruce Marlin, CC BY-SA 2.5 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5>, via Wikimedia Commons

The common whitetail or long-tailed skimmer (Plathemis lydia) is a common dragonfly across much of North America, with a striking and unusual appearance. The male's chunky white body (about 5 cm or 2 inches long), combined with the brownish-black bands on its otherwise translucent wings, give it a checkered look. Females have a brown body and a different pattern of wing spots, closely resembling that of female Libellula pulchella, the twelve-spotted skimmer. Whitetail females can be distinguished by their smaller size, shorter bodies, and white zigzag abdominal stripes; the abdominal stripes of L. puchella are straight and yellow

Rudy Mancke served as naturalist and co-host of South Carolina ETV's NatureScene, which began its long run in 1978. His field trips, broadcast nationwide, have earned him a legion of dedicated viewers. Rudy's knowledge of the complex inner-workings of different ecosystems and his great admiration for the natural world make him the perfect guide. In fact, the National Wildlife Federation and the Garden Club of America honored his commitment to resource conservation with special awards. Since retiring from SCETV, Rudy has gone on to teach at the University of South Carolina, Columbia.