Glistening Gliders

By rita

My neighbor and walking buddy Diane is becoming a Master Naturalist. Each month she has taken classes soaking up knowledge. She teaches me much on our daily treks down the road about the treasures to be found in our precious Ozarks. She imbues her lessons with the gift of story-telling and respect for the environmental gifts we have inherited while living here. This week she taught me about the dragonflies swarming by the hundreds along the river and country side. They are called Wandering Gliders (Pantala flavescens). They're wide-ranging and considered to be the most widespread dragonfly on the planet. The body is tear-drop shaped and medium sized. It has a mostly yellow tapered abdomen, long broad wings, and a plain gray thorax. Females sport an all yellow face while males add a red tint to the yellow. Over time, males develop an orange spot on the dorsal side of their abdomen and brown wing tips. The adult Wandering Glider often forages in large swarms and one of the most remarkable reports of such a swarm covered 13 miles. Sadly, these creatures live 30-60 days, giving them only time enough to mate and lay eggs before they die. There are approximately 100 documented species of dragonflies in Arkansas. Observing the dip and soar of these brilliant creatures has given me a new appreciation for this unique traveler. I look forward to next year's air show.



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