I live in a “luxury apartment” building called The Beacon of Groveton. Many residents of the building refer to the place as “The BoG.” Turns out the nickname is both an acronym as well as a word that describes the habitat accurately — believe me when I tell you there’s a lot of lipstick on this luxurious pig! (Hey, don’t take my word — go to Yelp and search “Beacon of Groveton” for independent verification.)
By now you may be wondering, “Why don’t you move?” Did I mention The BoG is within walking distance of the hemi-marsh at Huntley Meadows Park?
OK, I admit that was a long way to go in order to explain the clever title of this post! I noticed a Spot-winged Glider dragonfly (Pantala hymenaea) perching on a red brick sidewalk outside The BoG when I returned home from an errand on 15 July 2014. The dragonfly looked dead; it was alive, albeit motionless. The Spot-winged Glider was still on the sidewalk by the time I returned with a camera; I was able to snap a few shots before it flew away. Down, not out!
The dragonfly’s apparent misfortune was my good fortune. It is uncommon to see the broad-winged skimmers from the genus Pantala perching. Dragonflies are classified as either “fliers” or “perchers,” based upon their feeding habits. Spot-winged Gliders are fliers.
Spot-winged Glider is one of at least five major species of dragonflies known to be migratory in North America. One field marker most migratory dragonflies have in common: broad hindwings.
The very broad hindwings represent an important adaptation for gliding, … Source Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Locations 11276-11277). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.
This individual is a female, as indicated by its coloration and terminal appendages. Thanks to Ed Lam, author and illustrator of Damselflies of the Northeast, for verifying my tentative identification of the dragonfly’s gender.
Related Resources: Digital Dragonflies, presenting high-resolution digital scans of living dragonflies.
- Genus Pantala | Pantala hymenaea | Spot-winged Glider | female | top view
- Genus Pantala | Pantala hymenaea | Spot-winged Glider | female | side view
- Genus Pantala | Pantala hymenaea | Spot-winged Glider | male | top view
- Genus Pantala | Pantala hymenaea | Spot-winged Glider | male | side view
See interactive three-dimensional (3-D) virtual imagery of the five migratory dragonflies, including Spot-winged Glider, provided by the Migratory Dragonfly Partnership.
Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.