Minnesota Dragonfly

Common Whitetail

Plathemis lydia

The Common Whitetail is a medium sized King Skimmer with black patches on the wings. The female looks like a smaller version of the female Twelve-spotted Skimmer, with black patches at base, mid, and tips of the wings. Males have a bright white abdomen with black patches in the middle of the wings

Click on photo above for more pics


Field Marks
  • Average adult size is approximately from 1.7 to 1.9 inches
  • Dark eyes and face
  • Brown thorax with 2 pale yellow side stripes
  • Mature males abdomen covered with pale bluish white pruinose
  • Broad black band covers middle of each wing
  • Smaller black strip at the base of each wing
  • Immature males have yellow and black striped abdomens like the females
  • Immature males can be easily distinguished from female by observing their wings which have two wing patches, like mature males, instead of three patches like females

Click on photos above for a close-up view.

Field Marks
  • Average adult size is approximately 2.0 inches
  • Head and thorax similar to males
  • Abdomen is brown with diagonal yellow top spots that form two zig-zag lines running down the abdomen
  • Wings have 3 brown/black spots on each wing

Click on photos above for a close-up view.

Natural History


Common Whitetails are usually pretty easy to find. They often perch out in the sun on the ground, logs, rocks or other flat surface. They hunt small insect in flight, ambushing them from the ground or a low perch. Males are extremely territorial and will chase any male Whitetail or similar looking species out of their territory


Lakes, ponds, pools, marshes, slow moving streams. They prefer muddy bottoms.


Reproduction is quick, lasting only seconds, and happens in flight. Females can lay up to 1000 eggs per day by slapping their abdomen on the surface of the water while the male hover guards. Other males often attempt to sneak in and mate with the female while she is laying since it is the last sperm packets deposited that are used to fertilize the eggs

Range Maps

Click on the icons above for this species' range maps

Click here for county and state checklists from Odonata Central.

Range maps and checklists courtesy of Odonata Central. Copyright © 2016 OdonataCentral. All Rights Reserved. Abbott, J.C. 2006-2018. OdonataCentral: An online resource for the distribution and identification of Odonata. Available at www.odonatacentral.org.