Dot-tailed Whiteface

Adult dragonflies fly in profusion at this time of the year. With their membranous wings and often colorful bodies, I consider dragonflies as beautiful as butterflies.

The dot-tailed whiteface (Leucorrhinia intacta), a member of the Skimmer Family of dragonflies, can be found in the northern half of the United States and into Canada at higher elevations. A medium-sized dragonfly, the dot-tailed whiteface has a black head with a bright white face. The abdomen is black with a large yellow dot (square shaped) on the seventh segment. The female may have additional yellowish coloration on the abdomen. In both sexes as the adult ages the color fades.

When perched dragonflies, which are insects, hold their wings opened horizontally and flat. The stigma (small, colored thickened areas on the front edge of the wing near the tip) are easily seen on the otherwise colorless, transparent wings of the dot-tailed.

The pictured specimen is a female. Males have three terminal appendages while females have only two. Additionally females have an ovipositor on the lower end of the abdomen. The ovipositor is used to scatter eggs over the water. This whiteface also has yellow on the abdomen, in addition to the abdomen spot, a characteristic of the female. As with all dragonflies, the eyes are large and very close together, almost touching.

As I mentioned in an earlier post on dragonflies (Twelve-spotted Skimmer), the life cycle of a dragonfly begins as an egg which hatches into a nymph or larva. Over a month to several years the nymph undergoes around twelve instars (molt stages) finally emerging as an adult. The adult, which is most often seen by the casual observer, lives only for several weeks before sexually maturing, mating and laying eggs to begin the cycle again. While in the adult flight period dragonflies feed on mosquitos, gnats and other small insects.

The dot-tailed whiteface’s habitat is the still waters of ponds, bogs and lakes.

This dot-tailed whiteface was in a marshy area next to Spring Creek (Klamath County OR).

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4 Responses to Dot-tailed Whiteface

  1. Mike Powell says:

    Great photos. I love dragonflies but have a lot to learn. This was a new one for me. Thanks

  2. Lin says:

    Do I see eggs in the photo entitled “Ovipositor”?

    • gingkochris says:

      I am not an entomologist and was not certain if those were eggs on the ovipositor. However, they do look like eggs. Maybe someone with more knowlege of dragonflies can help out here.

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