The Whirring Common Whitetail Dragonfly
The Whirring Common Whitetail Dragonfly can be found all over Ohio. They are typically found near warm water ponds and lakes. The whitetail can also be found near streams, but only near the calm waters.
The common whitetail spends most of its life in the water as a nymph. The nymph has gills inside its body rather than outside its body. They use their abdominal muscles to move water in and out of their abdomen to breath. While it lives in the water, the nymph eats a variety of aquatic insects, such as mosquito larvae, mayfly larvae and even small tadpoles and fish.
The whitetail nymph does not actively hunt for food, but they wait for food to swim by where they are hidden. This helps protect them from other predators. The nymph is less than 1 inch long, which would make it a nice meal for some fish.
In the late spring, these nymphs begin to emerge from the water as full grown dragonflies. After they come out of the water, typically at night, the begin eating. The common whitetail dragonfly will eat most any soft bodied insect. They commonly prey on mosquitoes, flies, moths, mayflies and termites.
The eyesight of the common whitetail is very good. They have compound eyes made up of nearly 30,000 facets that each sense light. With the large number of facets and the large physical size of the eye, the common whitetail can see almost all the way around itself at one time.
|The whitetail nymph
The body of the common whitetail dragonfly is made up of 3 segments, just like other insects. Their total body length is between 1 ½ inches and 2 inches. More than half of its length is the abdomen, which is brown on the females and pruinose, or chalky white in color, on the males. This is where the name “whitetail” comes from.
The common whitetail dragonfly has four hyaline wings that have patterns of black and white spots along their length. The wingspan is about 2 ¾ inches across. The whitetail’s wings can beat at different speeds. It can also hold them at different angles. This enables the whitetail to fly forward, backward, sideways and even hover like a helicopter!
The Common Whitetail Dragonfly sure is Whirring, isn’t it?