Appearance* Fabricius , ''Entomologia systematica emendata et aucta
⟶ Supplement'', pp. 285
⤷ Beauvois , ''Insectes recueillis en Afrique et en Amérique'', pp. 69
⤷ Burmeister , ''Handbuch der Entomologie'', Band 2, pp. 852
Naming''Pantala flavescens'' may be confused with the ''P hymenaea,'' the "Spot-winged Glider," but this has a striking brown basal fleck in the hindwing and is generally slightly darker in color. It might be taken for a member of the genus ''Tramea'' but these usually have a distinctive stripe on their hind wings.The English common names "Wandering Glider" and "Globe Skimmer" refer to its migratory behaviour. The German name ''Wanderlibelle'' mean "migrant dragonfly". In Hong Kong, its name translates as ''Typhoon Dragonfly'' as it arrives with or shortly before the seasonal rain. The Japanese name is Usubaki-Tombo which is translated as "yellow dragonfly with delicate wings."In the scientific name ''Pantala flavescens,'' the genus name ''Pantala'' means "all wings," alluding to the big and long wings. The specific name comes from the Latin ''flavescens,'' meaning "yellowish," and refers to its distinctive golden tint.
The species was first described in 1798 as ''Libellula flavescens'' by Fabricius as follows:
L. [flavescens] alis hyalinis: stigmate niveo, corpore flavescente. Habitat in India Dom. Daldorff. Statura praecedentium. Caput flavescens oculis magnis, fuscis. Thorax flavescens, immaculatus. Abdomen compressum, flavescens linea dorsali nigra. Alae albae stigmate marginali niveo.
— Fabricius, ''Entomologia systematica emendata et aucta Supplement S. 285''
The first description of this underlying holotype is in the Zoological Museum of Copenhagen University taken from a female collected from India. In following years there appeared more descriptions with different names. In 1805, Palisot de Beauvois designated a specimen from Nigeria as ''Libellula viridula.'' Around 1823 the British entomologist Dale, in an unpublished manuscript, described an allegedly Norfolk-trapped male as ''Libellula sparing halli'', It is now in the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. In 1839, the German entomologist Burmeister named a male collected in Madras as ''Libellula analis'' and another male from Brazil as ''Libellula terminalis'' In 1910, the field was cleared as Richard Anthony Muttkowski recognized that these species were all synonyms. A description was made of ''Sympetrum tandicola'' 1955 from a male collected in the Himalayas and deposited at the Zoological Survey India, Calcutta, was identified as a ''Pantala flavescens'' in 1973.
DistributionThe Globe Skimmer, as its name suggests, has a very wide distribution area, between about the 40th parallels of latitude or within the 20 °C isotherm . In Europe there are only occasional sightings of the species, with serious evidence to date mainly from the Aegean Sea and the adjacent mainland. All Globe Skimmer records from England or France are of extremely doubtful value and may arise from co-importation with shipments of bananas. An explanation for the scarcity in Europe of this otherwise common species is the barrier effect of the Sahara which generates unfavourable winds, such as the Sirocco, whose dryness makes dragonfly passage almost impossible.
Their arrival in the subtropics and tropics coincides with the Intertropical Convergence Zone. More evidence of their preference for moist winds, is that the dragonfly migrates to Southeast India's Tamil Nadu only after the second monsoon which is brings the rain to that region. In the rest of India, however, it arrives with the first rain-making monsoon. Observations and stable isotope evidence suggests that they migrate from India or beyond to Africa across the Arabian Sea.
It is the highest-flying dragonfly, recorded at 6,200 m in the Himalayas. It was also first dragonfly species that settled on Bikini Atoll after the nuclear tests there. Furthermore, it is the only Odonata on Easter Island. These individuals seem to be a small gene pool, derived from the continental populations, which is slowly creating a new type by genetic drift. In colder areas like South Australia and Northern Canada, the species cannot overwinter and must therefore be replaced by new migrants each year.
StatusThe Globe Skimmer has NatureServe conservation status G5, meaning it is secure worldwide. This status was awarded on 30 December 1985. In the USA, it has the national equivalent protection status N5. In Canada, however, it is lower with N4 meaning it is apparently secure – uncommon but not rare but with some cause for long-term concern. Even at this level, it is granted protected status in many states of the US and Canada.
BehaviorTheir flight speed is up to 5 m / s. Especially in the autumn, the Wandering Glider flies in large swarms, using thermals to advantage. One report even speaks of a "cloud" covering 34 km2. They prefer moist winds. In normal flight, island populations keep to 2.5 meters above the ground on and stop flying in thermal updraughts. The continental populations, fly at altitudes of three to four meters and do not stop flying even in bad weather. Those on Easter Island have adapted away from their migratory habits because to fly out to the open sea would usually mean certain death.
When landing, it seeks a vertical attitude. Like all large dragonflies, the wings are held out from the body at rest.
ReproductionThe larva between 24 and 26 mm long. It is light green with light, brown speckles. The round eyes are sideways on the bottom of the head, the abdomen and the tail blunt.
The paired side plates on the eleventh segment of the abdomen, the so-called Paraproct, is smooth when seen from the side. The unpaired dorsal plate of the eleventh segment, called the Epiproct, is roughly the same length as or longer than the Paraproct. This distinguishes them from larvae of the genus ''Tramea'', where the Epiproct shorter than the Paraproct. Furthermore, the mouth parts '''' have 12–14 bristles and thus less than ''P. hymenaea'' which has 15–18 bristles.As is usual in the Libellulidae family, there is no distinct courtship ritual. The females may pair many times, but usually only once a day.
After mating, the migrant dragonflies fly in tandem, with the female ovipositing while the male remains connected. This species sometimes selects unsuitable places like freshly washed cars. A clutch consists of about 500 to 2000 eggs. The eggs spheroid in shape with the semi-major axis 0.5 mm and 0.4 mm at the smallest points.
The larvae develop within 38 to 65 days, which allows this migrant dragonfly to reproduce in temporary waters or even in swimming pools. However, the larvae seem to be very sensitive to temperature. The life expectancy is not known and because of their high mobility it is almost impossible to determine.
FoodThe larvae of the Globe Skimmer, like all dragonflies, are predatory. It forages very actively and eats fairly indiscriminately all sorts of aquatic invertebrates such as aquatic insect larvae and small shrimps ''.'' Even tadpoles and small fish are used for food. The imago eats mostly small insects such as mosquitoes swarming flying ants and termites.
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