Wandering 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.
Dragonflies are classified as either “fliers” or “perchers,” based upon their feeding habits. Wandering Gliders are fliers; it is uncommon to see fliers perching.
The following gallery of annotated photographs shows two Wandering Glider dragonflies (Pantala flavescens) spotted at Mason Neck West Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA: one is a female; the other a male. Wandering Gliders do not display sexual dimorphism; terminal appendages may be used to differentiate females and males.
Female dragonflies have a pair of cerci (superior appendages) that have little or no function.
(See a full-size version of the original photo, without annotation. Aesthetically speaking, I prefer the subtle difference in composition of a similar photo that doesn’t show the cerci as well as the featured image.)
Male dragonflies have three terminal appendages, collectively called “claspers,” that are used to grab and hold female dragonflies during mating: an upper pair of cerci (“superior appendages”); and a lower unpaired epiproct (“inferior appendage”).
Related Resources: Digital Dragonflies, presenting high-resolution digital scans of living dragonflies.
- Genus Pantala | Pantala flavescens | Wandering Glider | female | top view
- Genus Pantala | Pantala flavescens | Wandering Glider | female | side view
- Genus Pantala | Pantala flavescens | Wandering Glider | male | top view
- Genus Pantala | Pantala flavescens | Wandering Glider | male | side view
See interactive three-dimensional (3-D) virtual imagery of the five migratory dragonflies, including Wandering Glider, provided by the Migratory Dragonfly Partnership.
Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.