The Wandering Glider

The Wandering Glider is the world’s most widely distributed dragonfly occurring worldwide between the 40th parallels of latitude, but being most common in the tropics. They are also the world’s highest flying dragonfly having been recorded at 20,000 feet in the Himalayas. Wandering Gliders, averaging about two inches in length, are yellowish-red overall with a black stripe down the top of the abdomen. The eyes are reddish and there is a faint yellowish patch in the base of the hind wing. The hind wing of this dragonfly is extra wide, which allows for its characteristic gliding flight. Unlike most dragonflies, this species seldom lands during the day and will even fly in pouring down rain and at night during migration periods.  

Like all dragonflies, Wandering Gliders are predators, feeding on smaller insects such as gnats, mosquitoes and midges. The abdomen of the adult can store large amounts of fat that is used as energy for long-distance travel. They often form large feeding swarms in areas where food is plentiful. One feeding swarm, forming a cloud covering 13 square miles, was reported. Wandering Gliders lay their eggs in small shallow pools and temporary rain puddles where they deposit 500 to 2,000 eggs per clutch. Because of the temporary nature of the pools where they lay their eggs, the larvae, called Naiads, have to develop very rapidly. On average, it takes about six weeks for them to mature from egg to adult. Like the adults, the Naiads are predators also, feeding on plankton, tadpoles and the aquatic larvae of other insects. 

Wandering Gliders are most famous for their overseas migrations and wanderings, traveling hundreds and even thousands of miles over oceans to find breeding areas. One population of Wandering Gliders has the longest known migratory journey of any insect and the only one with a regular trans-oceanic crossing. This journey involves a circuitous route covering 10,000 miles and four generations of the dragonfly and follows the seasonal monsoon rains that move back and forth across the Indian Ocean between India and Africa. The dragonflies do not fly with dry winds but instinctively fly with moist winds that are converging to where the rains are. After the monsoon rains hit India, millions of recently emerged Wandering Gliders follow the winds across the ocean, at a height of around 6,500 feet, to East Africa where the monsoon rains hit next. They then lay their eggs in the temporary rain pools and in a few weeks a second generation emerges which continue following the winds which take them to southern Africa where they lay their eggs. The third generation which emerges follows the monsoon rains as it reverses direction and heads back north to East Africa again. Here they lay their eggs and in a few weeks the fourth generation emerges and follows the monsoon rains back across the ocean to India where the cycle starts all over again. 

Like the Wandering Gliders, we Christians are on a journey. “We are making life’s journey amid the perils of the last days. We need to watch carefully every step, and to be sure that we are following our great Leader. Skepticism, infidelity, dissipation, and crime are on every hand. It would be an easy matter to let go the reins of self-control, and plunge over the precipice to sure destruction. ...

“Infinite Love has cast up a pathway upon which the ransomed of the Lord may pass from earth to heaven. That path is the Son of God. Angel guides are sent to direct our erring feet. Heaven’s glorious ladder is let down in every man’s path, barring his way to vice and folly. He must trample upon a crucified Redeemer ere he can pass onward to a life of sin. Our heavenly Father’s voice is calling us, Come up hither.” Our High Calling, 11.

By David Arbour