A couple of months ago I got this nice shot of a common whitetail dragonfly (Odonata: Libellulidae: Plathemis lydia) along the River Raisin near Blissfield, Michigan. You might be asking yourself why this is called a “whitetail” when it doesn’t appear to have a white tail. Mature males do have a pale bluish-white tail, but this individual was a less-flashy female. In addition to the color differences, females and males have different wing patterns. Females like this have three dark spots on each wing that are roughly the same size. The spots on males feature a much larger central spot and diminished or absent proximal and distal spots.
These dragonflies are very widespread both geographically and temporally. They can be found throughout the continental US as well as much of Canada and Mexico. Like other dragonflies they are most common near water (the young nymphs are aquatic), but can also be found some distance away. They can also be found from late April through early November, depending on latitude.