Common Whitetail Dragonflies: Female and Immature Male

Subject: Second Spotted Wing Dragonfly
Location: Faribault County, Minnesota
July 14, 2016 12:58 pm
I think I owe y’all an apology.
I asked about the identification of some dragonflies this week, one being amber in color and two with spotted wings. The way I phrased my query could lead one to assume the spotted wing photos were of the same dragonfly; they are not the same dragonfly. Differing angles, yes; the spots however are not the same.
So, I am re-submitting the one and adding an additional photo to go with it taken at an ever so slightly different angle (I think I moved a tad while weeding).
The third image is another photo of the female Common Whitetail you identified for me. I figured you could add it to your files. I’m allowed three attachments, after all …
Thanks so much!
Signature: Wanda J. Kothlow

Immature Male Whitetail
Immature Male Common Whitetail

Dear Wanda,
Does your rain garden have a pond?  You have so many marvelous Dragonflies.  As we wrote yesterday, the spotted winged Dragonfly is a female Common Whitetail,
Plathemis lydia.  The other spotted winged Dragonfly image you provided today is an immature male Common Whitetail.  Many Dragonflies are sexually dimorphic, meaning males and females look like different species.  Additionally, many Dragonflies have immature individuals that change in color as they mature.  The Common Whitetail is one such species and the mature male Common Whitetail has a namesake white abdomen.  According to BugGuide:  “Males and females have different wing patterns. … Immature males have the same body pattern as females but the same wing pattern as mature males. … Mature males have a short, stout abdomen that is completely chalky blue-white covering the adolescent pattern. … Females have a short, stout abdomen with several oblique dorsolateral white or pale yellow markings against a brown ground color; each wing has three black evenly-spaced blotches.”

Female Whitetail
Female Whitetail

Thank you, Daniel et al!
Unless you count the birdbath, we have no pond or standing water (so no dragonfly nymphs) here at the apartments. We do water most evenings, especially since we’ve been moving plants and adding others and the days are getting hotter and drier. Others in town do have small rain gardens; Mom lives a mile away on the edge of town and her rain garden does have water since her sump pump drains into the rain garden down an artificial waterfall inset. In heavier rains, the field behind her has standing water for a few days and the peepers sing their chorus until the water dries up. I saw a spotted wing dragonfly there yesterday, but it flew away before I could make an ID.
So now I have a female Common Whitetail, an immature male Common Whitetail – all I need to photo now is a mature male Common Whitetail. I’ll keep my eyes open!
I do agree we have interesting dragonflies here; I have photos of reds, other blues, other spotted wings, small sizes, medium sizes, and a giant (as big as my hand!) green that reminds me of Cyclops. I have a few marvelous photos of Damselflies as well. I’ll send some more photos later this summer.
Thank you, again. I appreciate your time and attention to making these identifications for me.
Blessings to you!

Leave a Comment