Swift Long-winged Skimmer (Pachydiplax longipennis)

Swift Long-winged Skimmer (Pachydiplax longipennis)

The Swift Long-winged Skimmer (Pachydiplax longipennis), also called Blue Dasher or Blue Pirate, is an insect in the Libelluldae (Skimmers) family and order Odonata (Dragons and Damselflies). The common names Blue Dasher or Blue Pirate refer to the mature male of the species that has a blue body. The female and young males will have brown to gold bodies that turn bluish with age. The photograph above shows a mature male resting on a stem in French Hill Pond. Most authorities prefer the common name Blue Dasher for this insect. However, the author prefers the name Swift Long-winged Skimmer because most examples of this insect will not appear to be blue. The family name comes from the Latin for "small book." The species name is from the Latin for "long wings." This insect can be confused with the Pond Hawk (Erythemis simplicicollis) that is greener with more transparent wings. The Swift Long-winged Skimmer has translucent,  brown to amber patches near the tips and rear of the wings and dark areas where the wings attach to the body as seen in the photograph above. The Pond Hawk has none of these wing markings. Both the Blue Dasher and Pond Hawk have dark rectangular markings on the upper wing edges near the wing tips.

The thorax (the body between the head and abdomen) of this insect has pale yellow sides with brown stripes. The face is white and top of the head is dark. The Swift Long-winged Skimmer grows to about 1¾ inches (4.5 centimeters) long and has a wingspan of about 3½ inches (8.8 centimeters). The naiad is dark with a green to brown patterning.

The adult eats small insects of all kinds and the naiad consumes aquatic insects. They can be found feeding in French Hill Pond from May to September. Eggs are deposited on water and the emergent naiads make themselves at home on submerged plants. The environment of French Hill Pond encourages the proliferation of these insects. The males will be found flying over the pond but the females will remain in the woods unless they are depositing their eggs. It is understandable that the males are more visible inspiring the names Blue Dasher or Blue Pirate.

These insects do not bite but consume biting insects making them very beneficial.

 

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