Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada

Species Plathemis lydia - Common Whitetail

Common Whitetail - Plathemis lydia - male Dragonfly, unknown for ID - Plathemis lydia - male 8 Spots - Plathemis lydia - male Common Whitetail - Plathemis lydia - male Common Whitetail, male - Plathemis lydia - male Twelve-spotted Skimmer Female? No - - Plathemis lydia - female Female Common Whitetail - Plathemis lydia - female Common Whitetail - Plathemis lydia - female Male or female Libellula forensis? - Plathemis lydia - female Dragonfly - Plathemis lydia - female
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Odonata (Dragonflies and Damselflies)
Suborder Anisoptera (Dragonflies)
Family Libellulidae (Skimmers)
Genus Plathemis (Whitetails)
Species lydia (Common Whitetail)
Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Libellula lydia
One of 2 species in this genus in North America listed at U. of Puget Sound.
Males and females have different wing patterns:

Immature males have the same body pattern as females but the same wing pattern as mature males:

'tween' males have abdomens that are beginning to turn blue, but the adolescent body pattern still shows through the blue:

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 ventral view:

The patterns may be fainter in some, presumably younger - teneral, individuals:

While an old female may look very dark:

Wing venation:

Face of the male and a closeup of eyes:

Face of the female:

Head of the female showing the plate where the male claspers lock:

Closeup of female terminal appendages:
Found in the 48 contiguous states and the range continues south into Mexico. Found in these Canadian provinces: British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia.
Ponds, lakes, marshes, streams; adults may also be found some distance from water.
Primarily a summer species, but may be seen as early as late April and as late as November 1st (in New Jersey).
Adults feed on flying insects.
See Also
Females are often confused with the Twelve-spotted Skimmer (Libellula pulchella) but notice the solid stripe down the side of the longer, more slender abdomen here in L. pulchella:
Internet References
scanned adult images of male (U. of Puget Sound, Tacoma, Washington)
live adult images of male & female (David Westover and Ro Wauer, Odonata of Minnesota)
live adult image of male (Paul Pratt, Ontario)
live adult image of female (Jackie Sones, U. of Massachusetts)
live adult images of male and female (Stephen Cresswell, Odonata of West Virginia)
live adult images of adult and immatures by Jim Bangma, plus description, flight season, habitat, similar species (Dragonflies and Damselflies of New Jersey)