The Dragonflies and Damselflies of North Carolina
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North Carolina's 188 Odonate species

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Related Species in LIBELLULIDAE: Number of records added in 2021 = 132

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Common Whitetail (Plathemis lydia) by John Petranka
Compare with:   Distinctive
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Note: these identification tips apply specifically to mature males; features may differ in immature males and in females.

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flight charts
distribution Statewide, occurring in all 100 counties.
abundance Very common to abundant across the state, not seeming to vary considerably in numbers from one province to another. Though seldom occurring large swarms -- the highest one-day count is "just" 80 individuals -- it is among the most widespread species in terms of habitats from wet to dry, wooded to open.
flight Nearly the entire odonate flight season, from late March to late October, sparingly into November.
habitat Ponds, lakes, swamps, seeps, pools, and other open water. Probably uses smaller, temporary pools and ditches more than most other dragonflies.
behavior Adults commonly perch flat on the ground, especially on mud or other damp ground, such as pond shores, muddy spots in powerline clearings, and so forth. They also perch more often on concrete, wood, and other man-made structures than do most other dragonflies. They do perch on twigs and vegetation, but not as frequently as do most other skimmers. They forage well away from water, in fields, woodland borders, powerline clearings, as well as at pond margins, etc.; they often come into urban habitats such as gardens and yards.
comments This may be the most conspicuous or obvious dragonfly in NC, especially to the layman; they are impossible to miss or overlook when present, as they perch on the ground where observers frequently walk. In fact, one quickly tires of them, despite their attractiveness. Though females could be confused with the scarce Twelve-spotted Skimmer, in general this a very easily identified dragonfly.
state_status
S_rank S5
fed_status
G_rank G5
date_spread [Overwinter:] [Date Spread:] [No Late Date:] [Split on Feb:] [Default:]
synonym Libellula lydia
other_name
Species account update: Petr on 2021-07-23 15:09:27

Photo Gallery for Common Whitetail   55 photos are available.
Only the most recent 30 are shown.
Other NC Galleries:    Jeff Pippen    Will Cook    Ted Wilcox
Photo 1 by: John Petranka

Comment: Sampson, 2021-07-13, Pondberry Bay Preserve.
Photo 2 by: Lynn Swafford

Comment: Pitt, 2021-05-24, Male: Pond in Farmville, NC near disk golf course
Photo 3 by: John Petranka

Comment: Alamance, 2021-05-21, Sunny patches on upland trails near the Haw River at Shallow Ford Natural Area. - Photo is of female.
Photo 4 by: Lora Cline Loftin

Comment: McDowell; P, 2020-07-14, Marion
Photo 5 by: Kyle Kittelberger

Comment: Wake, 2020-07-12, near Falls Lake - attracted to MV light at night
Photo 6 by: Mike Turner

Comment: Cumberland, 2020-05-18, retention pond @ 35.0858, -78.9181
Photo 7 by: p dixon

Comment: Madison, 2020-04-20, Hot Springs area - first of the year
Photo 8 by: Jan Hansen

Comment: Orange, 2020-04-04, Power line cut parallel to Morgan Creek near Mason Farm
Photo 9 by: John Petranka

Comment: Yancey, 2019-05-22, Black Mountain Campground. - Female. Along South Toe River Lower Loop Trail.
Photo 10 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Cumberland, 2018-07-13, Cape Fear Botanical Garden, Fayetteville
Photo 11 by: Mike Turner

Comment: Davie, 2018-07-03, S. Yadkin River @ Concord Church boating access
Photo 12 by: Chuck Smith

Comment: Davidson, 2018-06-28, Residence off of Jerusalem Road. - Male, immature coloration.
Photo 13 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Craven, 2018-06-16, Swift Creek; 7 km section between Cool Springs Boating Access Area and NC 43 bridge, by kayak
Photo 14 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Chowan, 2018-06-09, Edenton National Fish Hatchery
Photo 15 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Edgecombe, 2018-05-25, Etheridge Pond, Tar River Game Land
Photo 16 by: Mark Shields and Hunter Phillips

Comment: Rockingham, 2018-05-13, Mayo River State Park (MARI) - Mayo Mountain Access - around ponds near park office
Photo 17 by: Guy McGrane

Comment: Watauga, 2018-05-01, Appears to be the earliest report for the county - Ben Miller Road
Photo 18 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Lenoir, 2018-05-01, Neuseway Nature Park, Kinston
Photo 19 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Wayne, 2018-05-01, Waynesborough Park, Goldsboro - female
Photo 20 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Washington, 2018-04-28, Pettigrew State Park (PETT)
Photo 21 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Tyrrell, 2018-04-28, Pettigrew State Park (PETT)
Photo 22 by: Guy McGrane

Comment: Wilkes; P, 2017-09-13, Marley Ford WMA duck pond
Photo 23 by: Guy McGrane

Comment: Wilkes; P, 2017-09-13, Marley Ford WMA duck pond
Photo 24 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Bladen, 2017-07-30, Cape Fear River at Lock and Dam #1
Photo 25 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Alleghany, 2017-06-28, Little Glade Mill Pond, Blue Ridge Parkway
Photo 26 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Burke; P, 2017-06-04, Johns River Boating Access, north of Morganton
Photo 27 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Mitchell, 2017-06-03, Nolichucky River at Poplar Access Area
Photo 28 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Rutherford; P, 2017-06-02, Morse Park, Lake Lure
Photo 29 by: Mark Shields, Hunter Phillips

Comment: Gates, 2017-04-14, Merchants Millpond State Park (MEMI)
Photo 30 by: Mark Shields

Comment: Jones, 2017-04-11, Island Creek trail, Croatan National Forest