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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
Family: Libellulidae
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.


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 .

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


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


The Libelluidae contain these genera:

Related Research Articles

<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.

<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>Crocothemis</i> genus of insects

Crocothemis is a genus of dragonflies in the Libellulidae family, subfamily Sympetrinae (darters). Various species of this genus occur in southern Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and the Southwest Pacific. They are generally small to medium-sized dragonflies.

<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>Trithemis</i> genus of insects

Trithemis is a genus of dragonflies in the family Libellulidae. They are commonly known as dropwings. There are over 40 species, mainly from Africa; two are endemic to Madagascar, and five are endemic to Asia. They are found in a wide variety of habitats; some species being adapted to permanent streams in forests, and others being capable of breeding in temporary pools in deserts.

<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 dragonflies

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>Sympetrum illotum</i> species of insect

Sympetrum illotum, the cardinal meadowhawk, is a species of skimmer in the dragonfly family Libellulidae. It is found in the Caribbean Sea, Central America, North America, and South America.


  1. Rambur, Jules (1842). Histoire naturelle des insectes. Névroptères (in French). Paris: Librairie Encyclopédique de Roret. pp. 534 [24] via Gallica.