The wandering glider (Pantala flavescens) is a wide-ranging dragonfly of the family Libellulidae.
Structure of the adult
The dragonfly is up to 4.5 cm long, reaching wingspans between 7.2 cm and 8.4 cm. The front side of the head is yellowish to reddish. The thorax is usually yellow to golden coloured with a dark line and hairy. There were also specimens with a brown or olive thorax. The abdomen has a similar colour as the thorax. The wings are clear and very broad at the base. There, too, there are some specimens with olive, brown and yellow wings. The transparent wings may turn a yellowish shade towards the tip. The chestnut-red eyes take up most of the head, as is usual in the large dragonflies. Females show some differences compared with males. The general rule is, the males have reddish yellow abdomen marked with black whereas the females lack the reddish wash in abdomen. The males have golden yellow patch on base of hindwings and narrow apical brown spot at the hind border of wings. The females lack apical brown patches in wings.
Wandering Glider's facts
Did you know?
Wandering glider (Pantala flavescens) may be confused with the "spot-winged glider" (Pantala hymenaea), but this has a striking brown basal fleck in the hindwing and is generally slightly darker in colour. It might be taken for a member of the genus Tramea but these usually have a distinctive stripe on their hindwings.
This species and the spot-winged glider (Pantala hymenaea) are the only members of the genus Pantala from the subfamily Pantalinae.
Wandering Glider habitat
Pantala flavescens is an obligate migrant that is linked to the monsoon front of the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). It commonly uses temporary pools and ponds watered by monsoon rainfalls but may occasionally breed in permanent water. It can be seen anywhere in feeding flight over open country, attracted for breeding to ephemeral habitats such as temporary wetlands in newly filled basins, including drainage ditches. It often breeds in artificial ponds, even swimming pools or small garden ponds, and may appear at new wetlands immediately. Fishlessness is probably prerequisite for breeding habitat, as larvae inhabit vegetation but occur in open in wetlands without vegetation. It also oviposits in canals and large shallow pools of rivers in rainy season. As shiny cars are used by mistake for oviposition, large parking lots are often frequented.
Wandering Glider threats
There are no significant threats presently affecting this species. The temporary wetlands where it breeds are susceptible to drought from climate change, but as this species is migratory with great flight powers, individuals will usually be able to disperse far enough to find water.