DragonflyPix

Wandering Glider (Pantala flavescens)

• Scientific name: Pantala flavescens (Fabricius, 1798)
• English name: Wandering Glider
• German name: Wanderlibelle
• French name: Libellule Globe-trotter
• Dutch name: Wereldzwerver
• Swedish name: Monsuntrollslända
• Norwegian name: N/A
• Finnish name: N/A
• Danish name: N/A
• Italian name: Frecciaerrante
• Czech name: N/A
• Slovenian name: N/A
• Bulgarian name: N/A
• Typical length: 45-55 mm
• Hindwing: 38-42 mm

Wandering Glider (Pantala flavescens)

Distribution map

Map data based on J.-P. Boudot & V. J. Kalkman (eds.),
Atlas of the European Dragonflies and Damselflies

The name 'Pantala' means 'all wing' and is very appropriate: the species does indeed have very long and broad wings, which allow it to fly and glide endlessly. The species is known for gathering in huge migratory swarms, e.g. along the eastern seaboards of America and Australia, and between India and East-Africa. On their migratory trek they follow the seasonal rains, using e.g. temporary rain pools to complete the egg-to-adult cycle at an incredible speed; whereas a species of a similar size would normally take two years to complete that cycle, Pantala flavescens manages to do so in about 35 days. Here in the Europe the Wandering Glider is exceedingly rare with only a handful of sightings from e.g. Turkey, Greece, the Italian islands of Lampedusa and Linosa (in 2012) and the Canary Islands (in 2013). We photographed the species in Florida, USA, where we saw large numbers of foraging individuals, at times in groups of more than 50. But those large numbers provide no guarantee for a photographic opportunity; the species settles very rarely and can be very skittish and difficult to approach. Only on half a dozen occasions did we manage to find an animal at rest and willing to be approached sufficiently for a close-up photograph. Apart from its large wings, the species' most characteristic features include the yellow-orange colour of the abdomen (which in mature males deepens to an orangey red), the brown eyes with a blue-grey lower half, and the long and pointed appendages in the female. Males usually carry a small, light-brown spot at their wingtips; a feature which only few females share.

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