Posts Tagged ‘wandering glider’

Lots of Dragonflies

Sorry about the quality of these pictures. The subjects didn’t land and pose.


A short storm came through a little earlier. I came in to the computer, looked out the picture window and saw dragonflies flying 10 to 15 feet high over our backyard. They flew fast, flew only when the sun was shining, and didn’t land.

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According to my dragonfly books, they’re wandering gliders, are two inches long, and their range includes the U.S. and southern Canada. I was lucky to get the close-up on the one above. All I saw of them was their orange color.

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   They prefer temporary ponds and puddles in the open with bare spots and short vegetation. Here they were flying back and forth over our backyard.

They are the only dragonfly found around the world except for Europe.


 Early in the evening, I saw lots of them across the highway, flying over the mowed area and over the corn. I stayed on our side of the highway to watch and photograph them. The early evening light shadowed the side of the corn and tree, making it easier to see the dragonflies.


Like I said, they were fast flyers!  I’d just hold the camera on certain areas and snap the picture when several flew across the cameras’ field of view. A lot of the pictures didn’t turn out; others would if I snapped the picture in time. There are six in the picture above. There wasn’t any aiming the camera. I’d just hold the camera and wait for them to fly by.


There are four in this picture.


They flew so fast that their wings didn’t show in a lot of the pictures.


I had to wonder what the people driving by thought about me standing out there aiming a camera across the highway.


Wandering gliders are a medium-sized dragonfly, almost two inches long. Their hindwings are triangular and broad at the base. This allows them to fly around for hours.


They feed mostly on aerial plankton.


They have been gone two days now, and I really miss them. This was my first encounter with them … and I hope not the last.


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.