Friday 5: My Favorite Dragonflies

Welcome to another Friday 5!  For your reading enjoyment, today I bring you a list of my top 5 dragonflies.  You’ll notice an obvious southwestern bias.

Numero Uno: The Wandering Glider or Pantala flavescens

Wandering glider (Pantala flavescens)

Wandering glider, Pantala flavescens

This species has been my favorite for a long time and is unlikely to be displaced from it’s top position.  I love this species almost entirely for its amazing flight abilities and its prominent role in nearly every dragonfly behavior that fascinates me.  It’s not much to look at in the grand scheme of dragonflies, but this baby can fly across oceans, it’s migratory, AND it uses storms to help determine where it travels and when to lay eggs.  It is such a strong flier that it is one of the only species known to fly in moderate to heavy rains.  That flight ability also makes them extremely difficult to catch.  Essentially, this is one bada$$ dragonfly and I love it!  As I’ve mentioned before, this will be the tattoo I get – when I get over my EXTREME aversion to needles.  Maybe my tattoo dream would come true if I took up drinking, to lower my inhibitions and all that.  A lot of people get tattoos while drunk, right?  :)

Numero Dos: The Giant Darner or Anax walsinghami

Anax walsinghami

Giant Darner, Anax walsinghami. Photo by John C. Abbott. Click on image for image source.

This dragonfly is HUGE!  The biggest in the US in fact.  And they’re in Arizona, which makes me a very happy person.  I am proud to say that the one specimen in my collection I caught with my bare hands!  Ignore the fact that it was a very hot day in July and it was effectively passed out in a tree trying not to overheat when I snagged it…

Numero Tres: The Filagree Skimmer or Psuedoleon superbus

Pseudoleon subperbus

Filigree skimmer, Pseudoleon subperbus. Photo by John C. Abbott. Click on image for image source.

The “superb” part of the species name is spot on as far as I’m concerned!  This species has absolutely gorgeous spot patterns on the wings and an elegant black body.  It’s simply stunning flying around streams!  I unfortunately don’t have any of these in my collection.  I swear these things are teasing me…

Numero Quatro: Mexican Amberwing or Perithemis intensa

Perithemis intensa

Mexican amberwing, Perithemis intensa

Tiny, cute, orange, yet oddly fierce (perhaps related to their stubbiness?).  I think these are simply adorable.  Enough said.

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Numero Cinco: Roseate Skimmer or Orthemis ferruginea

Orthemis ferruginea

Roseate skimmer, Orthemis ferruginea

Because this species is flaming pink in sunlight and because I’m a girl, the roseate skimmer has to make it onto my list.  This species is terribly gaudy, but for me it represents the reason why dragonflies are so popular with the public: their beautiful colors and ornamentations.  And, this one can get bug squeamish girls to appreciate bugs too!  No offense to anyone reading this – I used to be one of those squeamish girls when I was young, so I COMPLETELY understand your hesitation!  Still, I’m a teacher and this is what I’ve personally observed: the squeamish people are sometimes hard to reach because they often flat out refuse to go anywhere near an insect.  I never force anyone to participate.  But that pretty pink dragonfly…  Well, maybe that one’s okay.  And, look at that other dragonfly, the orange one!  That one’s rather pretty too…  Soon the squeamish people are hooked and participating with everyone else.  Success all around!  Roseate skimmer.  Try it!

That’s my Top 5 list.  Anyone else want to share their favorite dragonflies?  Leave a comment below!

Next up: 5 fun facts about webspinners!

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