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FloridaGardener's Blog
Jun 22

Written by: host
6/22/2009 9:39 PM

Pachydiplax longipennis, Blue Pirate, Blue Dasher, Swift Long-winged Skimmer Dragonfly

First of all, despite what you might have been told or come to think -- Odonate dragonflies are completely harmless - they do not sting or bite. Indeed, they are beneficial insects because they eat large quantities of small flying insects – particularly mosquitoes.

Pachydiplax longipennis burn an enormous amount of energy in flight and rarely stay perched in one place for very long. In fact it is because of their flight habits that they get their common names of “Swift Long-winged Skimmer” (for their swift flight), “Blue Dasher” (for their aerobatic flight patterns), and “Blue Pirate” (for the male of the species color and habit of guarding their territory by flying under airborne intruders and attempting to push them out of their airspace). Their species name longipennis means "long wings".

The blue pirate varies in size up to 1.6 inches long with a wingspan of 2.6 inches. This dragonfly has a white face; the male is the only blue dragonfly with a yellow and black tiger-striped thorax. The blue pirate has a brown abdomen with yellowish spots, but in the male of this species this abdominal pattern becomes obscured and turns a frosty blue with age. The blue pirate’s wings are clear or have an amber patch at the base of each hind-wing.

The blue pirate is a common dragonfly in the 48 contiguous states, southern Canada, northern Mexico, the Bermudas, and Bahamas. They live near freshwater ponds, lakes, marshes, bogs and can be found almost anywhere there is still or slow moving water. Their larva is highly tolerant of wetlands with poor water quality and low dissolved-oxygen levels.

Like all dragonflies they have excellent vision because of their large multi-faceted, multiple eyes which turn blue-green in mature males. This is one of the few dragonflies that as they mature develop a black spot in their eyes which gives them a “pupil effect”.

Copyright ©2009 Paul J. Erdek, FloridaGardener.com

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