Though I’m interested in all aspects of natural history, my focus these days is (obviously) on birds. Still, I’ve always been very interested in invertebrates, particularly dragonflies. My usual practice is to take a picture of any fascinating specimen that sits still long enough to allow it in the hope that one day I’ll be able to put a name to the multi-faceted face. My follow-up practice, however, is to spend to much time on other matters to pursue invertebrate identification. Consequently, these beautiful bugs tend to go unnamed.
However, if you read enough nature blogs, as I most certainly do, every vital piece of knowledge eventually comes your way. For many years, I’ve admired the following dragonfly, photographed for posterity during our first trip to Great Swamp NWR:
This chunky critter, looking for all the world like a jet-powered maggot, was so arresting that I had to snap its picture, despite its perch atop a pile of rotting apples. Who knows… maybe that was part of the attraction. Anyway, I’ve gone more than three years ignorant of this ode’s appellation. Now, thanks to Kingfisher, I’ve learned that it is a Common Whitetail.
The Common Whitetail (Libellula lydia) is both common, at least in North America, and white-tailed, at least as far as the males are concerned. The females of this species, also known as the Long-tailed Skimmer, have brown bodies. These fat-bodied dragonflies display very territorial behavior during their short adult lives. They eat mosquitoes and other flying insects, but also exhibit an occasional fondness for rotting apples.