Fun Common Whitetail Skimmer Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Oct 20, 2022 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 18, 2021
Edited by Katherine Cook
Fact-checked by Kidadl Team
Common whitetail skimmer facts are great for kids.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.7 Min

Have you wanted to study dragonflies? They are one of the most fascinating insects found on this earth. Most of us have memories of summer months where the beating wings of a dragonfly have made us curious about its life. The common whitetail skimmer or Plathemis lydia (formerly Libellula lydia) is a dragonfly species hailing from North America and Mexico. It is placed in the order Odonata and the family Libellulidae.

The interesting thing about this insect is the fat white abdomen present in the males. Moreover, the wings have patches that make the body and the wings together form a beautiful black and white pattern. However, the female has a brown body similar to other dragonfly species. You may find both female and male dragonflies beside freshwater bodies like lakes, and you can take time to observe the life of this species. Even though the population thrives, they face threats from habitat destruction, frogs, and birds.

Want to know more about the insect? Keep reading to learn common whitetail skimmer facts! Also, check out our articles about the widow skimmer and African skimmer.

Common Whitetail Skimmer Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a common whitetail skimmer?

The common whitetail skimmer, also known as the long tailed skimmer, is a species of dragonflies.

What class of animal does a common whitetail skimmer belong to?

The common whitetail skimmer belongs to the class Insecta, to order Odonata, and family Libellulidae.

How many common whitetail skimmers are there in the world?

An insect like the common whitetail skimmer (Plathemis lydia) is a species that reproduces prolifically. It would be really hard to study a pattern in its population.

Where does a common whitetail skimmer live?

The common whitetail skimmer dragonfly is found all over North America as well as in Mexico. We do not really know if this is an endemic species.

What is a common whitetail skimmer's habitat?

The common whitetail skimmer is found near freshwater bodies which may include everything from ponds, lakes, marshes, and at times even small streams and slow moving rivers. Recently, these dragonflies have also been observed in urban areas, especially areas with stagnant water.

Who do common whitetail skimmers live with?

A dragonfly is a solitary insect, so individuals don't really interact with each other even when a territory is being shared. Dragonflies of opposite sexes only come together to mate. However, males often interact with another male in a quick fight at the pond to find the most mates.

How long does a common whitetail skimmer live?

We don't really know the exact lifespan of the common white skimmer dragonfly. However, the average lifespan of most species is around 7-56 days. Apart from being caught by predators, many dragonflies end up dying because of the territorial nature of males.

How do they reproduce?

Most of the life of a dragonfly is in the form of a nymph where it resides in a fresh aquatic body. As it turns into an adult, the main goal is to reproduce as females only live for a short time. When females are ready to lay eggs, the dragonfly usually has to travel to an aquatic body or a marsh, and the males usually fight for the territory in these areas. As the females approach the aquatic body, the mature males approach for mating.

This can lead to a duel between the males of the species if more than one is present in the same territory. The female dragonfly usually inserts a part of its abdomen into the pond to release the eggs, and this is known as ovipositing. Dragonflies can lay 1500 or more eggs in each batch. Females may also choose to deposit the eggs in multiple batches rather than in one single pond. Neither of the dragonfly parents have any responsibility in raising the nymphs.

What is their conservation status?

Currently, the common whitetails are Not Evaluated in the IUCN conservation list.

Common Whitetail Skimmer Fun Facts

What do common whitetail skimmers look like?

The most interesting part of the common whitetail skimmer has to be its physical description. Its beauty lies with the male common whitetail and the unique body. The abdomen area of the male common whitetail skimmer is white and this gives it the iconic name. The wing is almost transparent with two visible black patches. Altogether, the body of the male common whitetail has a checkered look which is strikingly beautiful because of the black and white pattern.

Compared to the male common whitetail, the female has a brown body and it might be hard to distinguish it from other dragonfly species. This description is quite similar to that of twelve spotted skimmers. Also, there are three patches on the wings of a female common whitetail compared to that of males. When it comes to the young male common whitetail, it looks similar to the females because of the brown body and the wing pattern is similar to that of males. This is how you can identify these dragonflies. The Plathemis lydia nymph is either green or dark brown.

Common whitetail skimmer facts help us to learn about these dragonflies.

How cute are they?

Do you really think that a flying insect like a dragonfly can be called cute? Well, it might not be as adorable as the white admiral butterfly, but the checkered pattern on the male's body looks quite fabulous.

How do they communicate?

On looking at a dragonfly, you may be wanting to know how the insect gets around the world. Well, one of the greatest powers of dragonflies is the ability to use colors for communication. Recent studies have shown that dragonflies like common whitetails have great visual power that gives these flying insects a boost while navigating the territory. A male adult is quite territorial when it comes to female adults.

How big is a common whitetail skimmer?

We know that the average size of the common whitetail skimmer is around 2.3-2.9 in (60-70 mm). In comparison, a red admiral butterfly has an average body length of 1.7 in (4.3 cm).

How fast can a common whitetail skimmer fly?

We are yet to know the exact flying speed of these mighty insects. However, the average flying speed of adult dragonflies is around 10 mph (36 kph), so we can expect the common whitetail skimmer to have a similar speed.

How much does a common whitetail skimmer weigh?

Finding the weight of a species like a whitetail skimmer dragonfly is really hard because they are always moving. This means that the exact weight of this white-tailed skimmer if not known.

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no separate names for a male and female of this species.

What would you call a baby common whitetail skimmer?

A baby common whitetail skimmer is known as a nymph.

What do they eat?

Like most other flying insects that go through different life stages, the food of choice also changes with each phase. While living in ponds and water bodies as nymphs, the white tailed skimmer may depend on mayfly or crayfish. However, as full blown winged adults, most like to feed on mosquitoes.

Are they poisonous?

No, whitetail dragonflies are not poisonous insects.

Would they make a good pet?

Dragonflies are those insects that need a lot of space. If you can provide it with a habitat such as ponds, then keeping this dragonfly as a pet may work. However, in most cases, keeping whitetails will require a lot of work and you can always visit this species in most national parks around North America.

Did you know...

Due to the frequent need to fight for a female, males have developed fight muscles to make this easier.

Most common white dragonflies are active in the summer months, though most start becoming active during the spring.

You can identify a dragon by looking for its three sections because all dragonflies have a head, thorax and abdomen.

Do common whitetail dragonflies bite?

Well, just like other dragonflies, a whitetail may try to bite you, but in most cases, it won't be unsuccessful. The insect doesn't really have strong teeth to break human skin. Some people believe that that a dragonfly can sting, but that's also a myth.

Why are dragonflies called skimmers?

Many dragonflies are known as skimmers due to the habit of flying very close to the water, just like the common whitetail skimmer adult female that is always on the hunt to deposit its eggs. Also, dragonflies tend to follow the same path multiple times.  

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other arthropods including filmy dome spider facts and fiery searcher caterpillar hunter facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable anatomy of fly insect coloring pages.

Common Whitetail Skimmer Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Mosquitoes, mayflies, and crayfish

What Type of Animal were they?


Average Litter Size?

1500 eggs

How Much Did They Weigh?


What habitat Do they Live In?

freshwater ponds

Where Do They Live?

north america and mexico

How Long Were They?

2.3-2.9 in (60-70 mm)

How Tall Were They?








Scientific Name

Plathemis lydia

What Do They Look Like?

Male: white and brown Female: brown

Skin Type


What Are Their Main Threats?

habitat destruction, birds, and frogs

What is their Conservation Status?

Not Evaluated
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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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