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Thursday, July 10, 2014

"All wing"

Spot-winged Glider (Pantala hymenaea), washed up on the beach on 9 July 2014.  I'm now used to seeing these dragonflies show up at this time of year (see previous posts from 2012 and 2013).  

Unfortunately, this individual didn't make it.  It's hard to know what happened for sure.  Perhaps it flew too far out to sea and didn't have enough energy to make it back to land?  Or if it tried to land on something floating on the ocean surface, could it have been caught by an unexpected wave and unable to free itself from the water?

I learned a fun fact about the genus name tonight.  According to the Wikipedia entry, Pantala means "all wing."  When you take a moment to look at the surface area of the wings, you can see why this name was given to them.

In New England, Wandering Gliders (Pantala flavescens) are generally more common than Spot-winged Gliders (Pantala hymenaea).  In fact, Wandering Gliders are one of the most widely distributed dragonflies in the world, while Spot-winged Gliders are restricted to North and South America.

In California, however, there are more records for Spot-winged Gliders than Wandering Gliders.  You can review basic maps of their distributions here:

It's interesting to think about why Spot-winged Gliders might be more common than Wandering Gliders in California.  Or is this just my bias being focused along the northern California coast?

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