Last updated

Wandering Glider Pantala flavescens.jpg
Pantala flavescens
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Odonata
Infraorder: Anisoptera
Superfamily: Libelluloidea
Rambur, 1842 [1]

see text

The skimmers or perchers and their relatives form the Libellulidae, the largest dragonfly family in the world. It is sometimes considered to contain the Corduliidae as the subfamily Corduliinae and the Macromiidae as the subfamily Macromiinae. Even if these are excluded (as Silsby does), there still remains a family of over 1000 species. With nearly worldwide distribution, these are almost certainly the most often seen of all dragonflies.

Dragonfly Infraorder of insects with long strong bodies and two pairs of wings

A dragonfly is an insect belonging to the order Odonata, infraorder Anisoptera. Adult dragonflies are characterized by large, multifaceted eyes, two pairs of strong, transparent wings, sometimes with coloured patches, and an elongated body. Dragonflies can be mistaken for the related group, damselflies (Zygoptera), which are similar in structure, though usually lighter in build; however, the wings of most dragonflies are held flat and away from the body, while damselflies hold the wings folded at rest, along or above the abdomen. Dragonflies are agile fliers, while damselflies have a weaker, fluttery flight. Many dragonflies have brilliant iridescent or metallic colours produced by structural coloration, making them conspicuous in flight. An adult dragonfly's compound eyes have nearly 24,000 ommatidia each.

Family is one of the eight major hierarchical taxonomic ranks in Linnaean taxonomy; it is classified between order and genus. A family may be divided into subfamilies, which are intermediate ranks between the ranks of family and genus. The official family names are Latin in origin; however, popular names are often used: for example, walnut trees and hickory trees belong to the family Juglandaceae, but that family is commonly referred to as being the "walnut family".

The insect family Corduliidae contains the emerald dragonflies or green-eyed skimmers. These dragonflies are usually black or dark brown with areas of metallic green or yellow, and most of them have large, emerald-green eyes. The larvae are black, hairy-looking, and usually semiaquatic. Members of this family include the baskettails, emeralds, river cruisers, sundragons, shadowdragons, and boghaunters. They are not uncommon and are found nearly worldwide, but some individual species are quite rare. Hine's emerald dragonfly, for example, is an endangered species in the United States.


The genus Libellula is mostly New World, but also has one of the few endangered odonates from Japan: Libellula angelina . Many of the members of this genus are brightly colored or have banded wings. The related genus Plathemis includes the whitetails. The genus Celithemis contains several brightly marked species in the southern United States. Members of the genus Sympetrum are called darters (or meadowhawks in North America) and are found throughout most of the world, except Australia. Several Southern Hemisphere species in the genera Trithemis and Zenithoptera are especially beautiful. Other common genera include Tramea and Pantala .

<i>Libellula</i> genus of insects

Libellula is a genus of dragonflies, commonly called skimmers, in the family Libellulidae, distributed throughout the temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere. Most species are found in the United States, where they are the best-known large dragonflies, often seen flying over freshwater ponds in summer. Many have showy wing patterns.

New World Collectively, the Americas and Oceania

The New World is one of the names used for the majority of Earth's Western Hemisphere, specifically the Americas, and Oceania.

Japan Country in East Asia

Japan is an island country in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies off the eastern coast of the Asian continent and stretches from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and the Philippine Sea in the south.

The libellulids have stout-bodied larvae with the lower lip or labium developed into a mask over the lower part of the face.

Larva juvenile form of distinct animals before metamorphosis

A larva is a distinct juvenile form many animals undergo before metamorphosis into adults. Animals with indirect development such as insects, amphibians, or cnidarians typically have a larval phase of their life cycle.


The family name may have been derived from the Latin libella which means "booklet".


The Libelluidae contain these genera:

<i>Acisoma</i> genus of insects

Acisoma is a small genus of dragonflies in the family Libellulidae. It contains six species:

Aethiothemis is a small genus of dragonflies in the family Libellulidae.

<i>Aethriamanta</i> genus of insects

Aethriamanta is a genus of dragonflies in the family Libellulidae. Species of Aethriamanta are found in Madagascar, through Southeast Asia, Indonesia, New Guinea and northern Australia.

<i>Orthetrum sabina</i> species of insect

Orthetrum sabina, the slender skimmer or green marsh hawk, is a species of dragonfly in the family Libellulidae. It is widespread, being found from south-eastern Europe and North Africa to Japan and south to Australia and Micronesia.

<i>Libellula depressa</i> species of insect

Libellula depressa, the broad-bodied chaser or broad-bodied darter, is one of the most common dragonflies in Europe and central Asia. It is very distinctive with a very broad flattened abdomen, four wing patches and, in the male, the abdomen becomes pruinose blue.

<i>Trithemis kirbyi</i> species of insect

Trithemis kirbyi, also known as the orange-winged dropwing, scarlet rock glider, or Kirby's dropwing, is a species of dragonfly in the family Libellulidae.

Related Research Articles

<i>Celithemis</i> genus of insects

Celithemis is a genus of dragonflies in the family Libellulidae. They are known commonly as pennants. There are eight species in this monophyletic genus. They are mainly distributed in eastern North America.

<i>Diplacodes</i> genus of insects

Diplacodes is a genus of dragonflies in the Libellulidae family. They are commonly known as perchers. Their colours range from the totally black body of the African Diplacodes lefebvrii, the lovely pale blue of India's Diplacodes trivialis, to the intense red of the Asian–Australian Diplacodes haematodes.

<i>Sympetrum</i> genus of insects

Sympetrum is a genus of small to medium-sized skimmer dragonflies, known as darters in the UK and as meadowhawks in North America. The more than 50 species predominantly live in the temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere; no Sympetrum species is native to Australia.

<i>Erythrodiplax</i> genus of insects

Erythrodiplax is a large Neotropical genus of dragonflies in the family Libellulidae. These small to medium-sized skimmers are commonly known as Dragonlets

<i>Gynacantha</i> genus of insects

Gynacantha is a genus of dragonflies in the family Aeshnidae. The females have two prominent spines under the last abdominal segment. This gives the genus name and the common name two-spined darners; they are also known as duskhawkers.

<i>Ischnura</i> genus of insects

Ischnura is a genus of damselflies known as forktails in the family Coenagrionidae. Forktails are distributed worldwide, including various oceanic islands. The males have a forked projection at the tip of the abdomen which gives the group their common name.

<i>Lestes</i> genus of insects

Lestes is a genus of damselfly in the family Lestidae. The family hold their wings at about 45 degrees to the body when resting. This distinguishes them from most other species of damselflies which hold the wings along, and parallel to, the body when at rest.

<i>Macromia</i> genus of insects

Macromia is a genus of large dragonflies in the family Macromiidae. They are commonly known as river cruisers from their habit of cruising long distances along river banks. Most species of Macromia occur in the tropical Australasian region, with one species being found in Europe , and a few species occurring in North America.

<i>Pseudagrion</i> genus of insects

Pseudagrion is the largest genus of damselfly in the family Coenagrionidae, with over 140 species. Its range includes most of Africa, much of Asia, and Australia. Africa holds most of the diversity with almost 100 species. It has occupied most of the freshwater habitats in its range, and dominates damselfly communities in habitats as different as desert pools, equatorial rainforests and montane streams.

<i>Rhyothemis</i> genus of insects

Rhyothemis is a genus of dragonfly in the family Libellulidae. They are commonly known as Flutterers. Rhyothemis species are found in Africa, Asia, Australia and the Pacific region.

<i>Tramea</i> genus of insects

Tramea is a genus of dragonflies in the family Libellulidae, the skimmers and perchers. Species of Tramea are found in tropical and subtropical regions around the globe. They typically have colored bases to their otherwise translucent hindwings. In particular when they fly, this creates the impression of their carrying bags at the start of their abdomens. They are known commonly as saddlebags or saddlebags gliders.

<i>Zygonyx</i> genus of insects

Zygonyx is a genus of dragonflies in the family Libellulidae. They are commonly known as cascaders because of their preference for living beside waterfalls and flying through the spray. They lay their eggs into the wet dangling roots of plants.

<i>Neurothemis</i> genus of insects

Neurothemis is a genus of dragonflies in the family Libellulidae. They are found in India, Asia, Australia and the Pacific region. Most Neurothemis species are red in color.

<i>Orthemis</i> genus of insects

Orthemis is a genus of large Neotropical dragonflies, commonly called Tropical King Skimmers. The males are generally red and the females brown.

<i>Neurothemis intermedia</i> species of insect

The Paddyfield Parasol, Neurothemis intermedia, is a species of dragonfly in the family Libellulidae. It is widespread in many Asian countries. Four subspecies are recognized.


  1. Rambur, Jules (1842). Histoire naturelle des insectes. Névroptères (in French). Paris: Librairie Encyclopédique de Roret. pp. 534 [24] via Gallica.
University of Puget Sound University in the US state of Washington

The University of Puget Sound is a private liberal arts college in Tacoma, Washington. Puget Sound offers Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Music, Master of Arts in Teaching, Master of Education, Master of Occupational Therapy, and Doctor of Physical Therapy degrees. The college draws approximately 2,600 students from 44 states and 16 countries. It offers 1,200 courses each year in more than 50 traditional and interdisciplinary areas of study.