Nature’s Mosquito Control
The Whitetail Skimmer is one of our more common dragonflies here in Nashville, TN. They are also known as the Common Whitetail and Long-Tailed Skimmer. The name is appropriate as the female skims the surface of the water as eggs are laid while in flight. However the white tail is only a quality of the male species. The female is actually a brownish color with angled white markings along the edge of their abdomen. Both the male and female have the obvious clear and black wing pattern.
Whitetail Skimmers are beneficial in many ways. They live around ponds, rivers, streams, swampy areas and even manmade water holding areas. Therefore they help control the mosquito population along with their larvae feeding on mayfly larvae and other small water borne insects and minnows. The circle of life continues with the Whitetail Skimmers larvae also being eaten by fish and birds, and the adults being a food source for birds, fish, frogs and other animals that live around water sources.
They are known as insects that perch and soak up the warm sunshine as they watch for a meal. Then with their excellent flying ability and quick aerial moves, they can catch many other flying insects in mid flight. They are hunters and carnivores that keep nature’s other insect populations under control. They are also extremely territorial and the males will patrol an area as large as 300,000 square feet to keep other males away during mating. As with other insects with limited life spans of only a few months, and over 90% of their larvae being eaten before maturation – mating is very important. So, the Whitetail Skimmer spends a great time of their adult life looking for a suitable mate. Once they have found this mate their copulation is very unique. The male will grab the neck of the female, with the female then bending her body forward to get into a wheel position. Only the female will allow this to happen, as they cannot be forced into this position for the male to insert his sperm. After this has been successful, the male will then stay very close and guard his female from other competition, as the can actually remove his sperm and insert their own; a tricky situation indeed. So he must be fierce and fight away any other suitors until she is ready to lay her eggs. The female Whitetail Skimmer then takes flight, skims water to disperse her eggs across water, in muddy areas and also in grassy areas. This is ingenious, as this helps ensure that a portion of her eggs will mature rather than get eaten all at once in one feeding by a predator. They need this technique, as the Whitetail Skimmer does not stay back and guard her eggs, rather it is survival of the fittest based on the best hiding places of up to 1,000 eggs that are spread out over a large area and different environments.
The best time to spot this local beautiful dragonfly is in the heat of the day as they perch and bask in the sun on logs and rocks around a water source. They may aggressively fly around your property and even swoop at you, but do not be afraid. Actually, we should welcome this natural mosquito repellent / carnivore. The Whitetail Skimmer is not a Nashville pest control issue, but many of its food sources are. So, if you have any unwanted pests around or in your home, please call your local family owned and operated service provider – Certified Pest Control. We are happy to give you a free estimate to provide a year round pest protection program custom tailored to your property.