Nasty Hobbit's New Home

Nemo, quamvis sit prudens, est, quin cottidie multa addiscere possit.

A hopeful sign

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Pantala flavescens on a basil plant

Pantala flavescens resting on a basil plant

Today I spotted a Globe Skimmer (Pantala flavescens) in the front yard, resting on a Mrhani basil plant. The Globe Skimmer, also called the Wandering Glider, so named because of its migratory behavior. It is considered an obligate ITCZ (Intertropical Convergence Zone) migrant, traveling thousands of kilometers following the ITCZ rains and breeding in the pools created by the rainfall. So if one Globe Skimmer has been spotted, it means there are others that came with it, and it also means that the rains are coming as well. I would certainly hope so, as this year’s El Niño has been difficult for the farmers especially. The rainfall would be a welcome respite.

Pantala_flavescens_04

The Globe Skimmer is a dragonfly in the family Libellulidae and one of only two species in the genus Pantala. It was first described by entomologist Johan Christian Fabricius, a Danish student of the Swedish father of taxonomy Carl Linneaus, in his book Entomologia systematica emendata et aucta: Secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, adjectis synonimis, locis, observationibus, descriptionibus published in 1798, where it was then named Libellula flavescens.

P_flavescens_1 P_flavescens_2

LIBELLULA. Labium trifidum: lacinia dorsali minutissima. Antennae tenuissimae, filiformes.

L. flavescens. alis hyalinis: stigmate niveo, corpore flavescente.

Habitat in India Dom. Daldorff.

Statura praecedentium. Caput flavescens oculis magnis, fuscis. Thorax flavescens , immaculatus. Abdomen compressum, flavescens linea dorsali nigra. Alae albae stigmate marginali niveo.

The original genus name Libellula comes from the Latin word “libella”, which refers to the builder’s tool called a “level”, based on the horizontal position of the dragonfly’s wings; and its species name flavescens means “to become yellowish or golden”, referring to the coloration of the females and immature males. Its currently accepted genus name Pantala is derived from the Greek words “panta”, which means “all”; and “ale”, which means “wandering or roaming without home or hope of rest”.

References:

Fabricius JC (1798) Entomologia systematica emendata et aucta: Secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, adjectis synonimis, locis, observationibus, descriptionibus. 283 – 285.

Fliedner H, Martens A (2008) The meaning of scientific names of Seychelles dragonflies (Odonata). Phelsuma 16: 49 – 57.

Hobson KA, Anderson RC, Soto DX, Wassenaar LI (2012) Isotopic Evidence That Dragonflies (Pantala flavescens) Migrating through the Maldives Come from the Northern Indian Subcontinent. PLoS ONE 7(12): e52594.

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