The Wandering Glider dragonfly makes the longest migration of any insect known!
Dragonfly migration is one of the most amazing insect events on planet Earth! The longest known migration of any insect takes place by a dragonfly called the Wandering Glider (Pantala flavescens). The Wandering Glider has the largest distribution of any dragonfly and is found on all continents except Antarctica. Those found in southern Africa and India, will migrates across the Indian Ocean following the monsoon season for a distance twice as long as the Monarch butterfly in North America.
Dragonflies flying, note these are in a feeding swarm, partly indicated by the multiple directions they are facing. Compare this to the Turkey Vultures below.
Following monsoon rains, the Wandering Glider lays its eggs in temporary puddles on islands across the Indian ocean. It’s life cycle is about 5 weeks from egg to adult, which allows it to take advantage of these temporary pools.
Wandering Glider Nymph
In the United States, we are still learning why or even exactly where dragonflies are migrating, but we do know from isotopic data, that individuals of the Common Green Darner (Anax junius) captured in Veracruz, Mexico, developed in the ponds of southern Canada. Dragonfly migration has been documented since the 1880’s and is still not well understood!
Common Green Darner mating
Researchers near Veracruz, Mexico that count raptors during bird migration have said sometimes the dragonflies get sooo thick they can not count the birds! That’s a TON of dragonflies migrating.
Turkey Vultures migrating in Veracruz, Mexico. Note how they are moving in one direction!
That is where you can come in!! Scientists from universities, government, and conservation groups from Canada, US and Mexico have joined up to create the Migratory Dragonfly Partnership. They are working together to get citizen scientists to help monitor dragonfly migration in the spring and fall. You can either monitor a pond or if you are near the coast, migration events. If you are interested you can go to the Migratory Dragonfly Partnership page and read more about how you can help!
Of course we here at Arthropod Apothecary love dragonfly migration soooo much that we have dedicated a soap to it! Right now it is 50% off, so get it while it lasts! Comes with more fun facts about the wandering glider, I think it even smells a bit like dragonflies, sort of fresh air meets a light orange scent! :)
Hope you find lots of bugs in your backyard,