Libellula (Plathemis) subornata
(Desert Whitetail)

Order: Odonata
Suborder: Anisoptera
Order Description:
Family: Libellulidae
Family Description: Whitetail

   Naiad- This is a medium-sized naiad with a length of 7/8 to 1 inch (21 to 24 mm). The abdomen is rounded, giving it a short, stocky appearance known as the sprawler form. There is a single, blunt hook on the tops of abdominal segments two through six, the tallest of which occurs on segment four. Additionally, there is a single, rear-facing spine on each side of abdominal segments eight and nine.
   Adult- This is a medium-sized dragonfly, with a length of 1 5/8 to 2 inches (40 to 51 mm). It has a broad abdomen. Mature males, females, and immature males look differently:

From southeastern Oregon east to southern Wyoming and south to Mexico. In Idaho, this dragonfly occurs in the southwestern portion of the state.

This dragonfly can be found near ponds and seepage pools in desert areas.

Adult Flight Season:
Early June to early September

   Naiad- Naiads feed on a wide variety of aquatic insects, such as mosquito larvae, other aquatic fly larvae, mayfly larvae, and freshwater shrimp. They will also eat small fish and tadpoles.
   Adult- The dragonfly will eat almost any soft-bodied flying insect including mosquitoes, flies, butterflies, moths, mayflies, and flying ants or termites.

The naiads live in submerged aquatic grasses and sedges. They do not actively pursue prey but wait for it to pass by, a strategy which affords them protection from other predators. Naiads emerge as adults at night. Adults generally fly from early July to early September. Hunting occurs from perches on twigs and rocks.

Males establish and defend territories at choice breeding locations. After males and females mate, the female flies singly, without the male attached, to lay her eggs. She does this by dipping the tip of her abdomen in the shallows of desert seeps and ponds while hovering above the water's surface.

Populations are widespread, abundant, and secure.
Status: Unprotected nongame species
Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S?

Corbet, P. S. 1999. Dragonflies: Behavior and Ecology of Odonata. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York, USA, 829pp.

Logan, E. R. 1967. The Odonata of Idaho. Unpublished M. S. thesis. University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho, USA, 105 pp.

Needham, J. G. and M. J. Westfall. 1955. Dragonflies of North America. University of California Press, Berkely, California, USA, 615 pp.

Paulson, D. R. 1999. Dragonflies of Washington. Seattle Audubon Society, Seattle, Washington, USA, 32 pp.

Walker, E. M. and P. S. Corbet. 1975. The Odonata of Canada and Alaska, Vol. III. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 307 pp.

Written by Mark Lung and Stefan Sommer, 2001
Photos by Dennis Paulson, 2001
Design by Ean Harker, 2001.

HTML by Marty Peck, 2001.