Wandering Glider, a Dragonfly

My oldest son called me after supper. “You need to see this? Hundreds and hundreds of dragonflies. Swarms of dragonflies. Never seen anything like it!

I grabbed my purse and camera, hurried south on the highway and then east on a gravel road. The road passed a few houses and then went down a short hill. That was where the action began.

Swarm after swarm of low-flying dragonflies. None were landing. All the dark spots in the picture below are dragonflies! The ones flying in and over the plants don’t show in the picture.

The dark spots are dragonflies — I counted 33

I took pictures of them toward the setting sun and toward the east. Keith met up with me. All we could see was that the dragonflies had a slight orangish color and no pattern on their wings. Keith drove my truck further along the road. The swarms continued for a mile!

When we stopped at the corner, Keith took my camera and got pictures from a stooped position, lying on his stomach and  then on his knees in the ditch. He drove us back to his truck. At one point he sped up to 40-mph,  trying to get dragonflies caught on the grill of the truck. It worked: he got 3 specimens.

I counted 17 in this picture

Identification of these dragonflies would’ve been impossible without the specimen.

Wandering glider (Pantala flavescens)

Also called globe skimmer

This turned out to be an quite exciting and educational experience for me.

Wandering glider is the world’s most widely distributed dragonfly and is found on every continent except Europe. They’re the most evolved of all the dragonflies and feed on aerial plankton. I’d never heard of aerial plankton. It’s tiny life forms that float and drift in the air. It includes viruses, bacteria, fungi, pollen, spores, and wind scattered seeds. It also includes some aphids and ballooning spiders.

These dragonflies can fly up to 5m per second. Their long wide hindwings allow them to fly over the oceans, day and night for thousands of miles. This just seems impossible.

Storms can push aerial plankton toward the ground. Dragonflies are thought to take advantage of this … and we had a strong storm just east of us late this afternoon. The wandering glider flies high too. None were that we saw.

Now, if I could just find my flashlight, I’d do like one website suggested and go outside at night, shine the  light up and look for aerial plankton in the beam.

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Therese on July 15, 2012 at 9:10 am

    I remember how excited you were when this occurred. Pictures are worth a million words, in my opinion. Wow!

    Reply

  2. The last picture looks just like the dragonflies from that swarm on the notebook pad you have. 🙂

    Reply

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