Globetrotting Dragonfly Endures Long-Haul Flights

By |  March 4, 2016

I travel several times a year as senior digital media content producer for North Coast Media, PMP‘s parent company, and occasionally have a long-haul flight. I don’t necessarily hate long travel days and airports — just the time I actually spend in the air.

I get nauseated, can’t sleep, exhaust games on my phone, have achy knees and sometimes experience an unpleasant-smelling neighbor. I dread long flights.

The wandering glider (Pantala flavescens) doesn’t have this problem, although I can’t vouch for the smelly neighbor issue.

This dragonfly, also known as the “globe skimmer,” makes the longest flights around the world of any other insect, newsweek.com recently reported. This dragonfly species can be up to 2 in. long and 3 in. wide with its wings spread.

These dragonflies travel across the world, and have been seen flying across the Indian Ocean migrating from Asia to Africa in the thousands with speeds reaching up to 11 miles per hour. (It’s a good thing airplanes are about 54 times faster than wandering gliders.)

Chances are you’ve seen one of these fellas, or it has at least been in your presence. The wandering glider can be found in most states, southern Canada, Central and South America, the Bahamas, West Indies, Hawaii and throughout the Eastern Hemisphere, except for Europe, according to “Wind Drift Compensation in Migrating Dragonflies Pantala (Odonata: Libellulidae)” by Robert B. Srygley.

Wandering gliders are a pest to larger dragonflies. Their swarms “mob” larger dragonflies by collectively attacking them the way sparrows attack crows or hawks, according to “Dragonflies,” a book by Cynthia Berger and Amelia Hansen.

Unlike my feelings, whether or not the wandering glider enjoys long flights is up in the air.

This article is tagged with and posted in Crawling the Web

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