Common Whitetail

Catherine Boston

I was recently talking with a friend about dragonfly larvae so I had dragonflies on my mind as I walked the red/brown trail today.  I don't know a great deal about these beautiful creatures but I find them captivating.  They spend the majority of their lives in water as nymphs (up to four years) and only a brief time as adult dragonflies (up to six months).  They are voracious predators in both stages.  This dragonfly decided to stop and pose for me along the field.  I always have to use a guide to identify dragonflies and this one had me perplexed.  The body seems very much to be a female common whitetail but the wings are for the male of the species (which has a very distinctive white abdomen).   This led to an enjoyable journey to discover that there is an immature stage of the male's development when they have the body markings of a female but the wings are distinctively male.  So I believe this is an immature male common whitetail dragonfly.  I stand ready to be corrected and learn from my mistakes if there is an expert out there who has a more accurate identification.  Either way, I hope this dragonfly is making the most of it's brief moment in the sun.

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