Pantala flavescens
(Wandering Glider)

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

   Naiad- This is a medium to large naiad with a length of 15/16 to 1 1/16 inches (24 to 26 mm). It is pale green with light brown markings. There is a large, rear-facing spine on each side of the last abdominal segments, but there are no hooks on the back, as some naiads have.
   Adult- This is a medium to large dragonfly with a length of 1 3/4 to 2 inches (44 to 50 mm), with a fairly wide abdomen. The thorax and abdomen are orange to brown, and there are no markings. Each hindwing is almost triangular in shape, with the broadest part at the base where it attaches to the body.

This is the world's most widely distributed dragonfly. It occurs worldwide between 400 N and 400 S latitude, and is the only dragonfly with such a large distribution. It is most common in tropical and subtropical regions with highly seasonal rainfall. In Idaho, it occurs at seasonal ponds on the Snake River Plain.

This dragonfly can be found near seasonal ponds.

Adult Flight Season:
It has only been observed to fly in August in Idaho, but it most likely flies over a longer season.

   Naiad- The 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 eats small flying insects, especially mosquitoes which also use seasonal ponds. They also gather in swarms to feed on flying ants and termites.

The naiad swims actively about in pursuit of prey, an unusual trait for naiads of this family. Because they make little effort to conceal themselves when foraging, the naiads are very vulnerable to predators such as fish. Luckily, the seasonal ponds in which they live rarely contain many fish and the naiads do well. They have voracious appetites and this results in quick maturation (40 to 60 days, depending on water temperature and availability of prey). They emerge as adults synchronously, and the adults migrate using thermals in the atmosphere. In Idaho, the naiads have been observed to emerge in early August, indicating that the migratory adults arrived to breed in June. The adults migrate around the world in search of seasonal ponds to reproduce, traveling hundreds or even thousands of miles. The abdomen of the adult can store large amounts of fat that is used as energy for long-distance travel. Adults have even been seen perching on ships far out at sea. The adult Wandering Glider often forages in large swarms, and one of the most remarkable reports of such a swarm was of a cloud of Wandering Gliders that covered 13 square miles (34 square kilometers)! This is one of the few dragonflies that will remain on the wing during heavy rain, and in India, its arrival is said to herald the coming of the monsoons.

After males and females mate, the female flies with the male attached (in tandem), to lay her eggs, generally in seasonal ponds. However, this dragonfly often mistakes the finishes on shiny new cars for water and lays eggs on them as well, a most unfortunate choice for the hatching naiads.

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.