Posts Tagged 'dragonflies'

Shadow Darner

Aeshna umbrosaAs November nears, the dragonflies are starting to be very scant above the ground. On Saturday, I saw a single Common Green Darner in Green-Wood. Yesterday, I saw this Shadow Darner (Aeshna umbrosa) at Little Stony Point up in Cold Spring. A new species for me, IDed with help from the Northeast Odonata FB crew. Paulson says this is “usually one of last species of autumn.” Besides a bumblebee, this was the only visible insect there. This afternoon, I saw about half a dozen Common Green Darners patrolling a very sunny lawn in Prospect.

Some More Southwestern Insects

i9The largest beetle I’ve ever run across. It was wider than my thumb. Giant Palm Borer?
i15Like the butterfly below, this dragonfly was deceased.Danaus gilippusQueen male (Danaus gilippus) and the spider who caught him.i7
i11This stink bug — genus Eleodes? — has assumed the position and is ready to spritz us with noxious spray.i8
Euptoieta claudiaVariegated Fritillary (Euptoieta claudia).i17

Some Southwestern Insects

Aglais milbertiMilbert’s Tortoiseshell (Aglais milberti). I’ve only identified a couple of the following, so holler if you know any of them.
Battus philenorPipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor).i16i10This katydid was dropped in front of me by a surprised Western Tanager. I think the katydid was surprised too, if not in shock.i5Like the chimney-shaped ant colony entrance, this is another sign of an insect, in this case a gall-maker (evidently several species make willows produce these cone-like structures).

Summer of the Blue Dashers

Pachydiplax longipennisThe Blue Dashers (Pachydiplax longipennis) have been everywhere this year. I said this two weeks ago, and I repeat it now. It is a banner year for them. Just walking down the streets here in Brooklyn reveals them perched on bare branches of trees, fence posts, and car antennas.Pachydiplax longipennisThis is a classic pose for the Dashers, with the wings drooped forward. Note the difference in amber patching on the wings between this specimen and the ones above and below. These first three are all males, by the way; females are much harder to find. The species has a seasonal variability in size, with autumn specimens smaller than spring ones. Pachydiplax longipennis

And here is one of the females:Pachydiplax longipennis

Wandering Glider

Pantala flavescensThe Wandering Glider (Pantala flavescens) also known as the Globe Skimmer, because it’s found world-wide around the tropics and near-tropics. As its common name suggests, this species is a mover, flying constantly, nearly non-stop, but sometimes it does perch (like at night). This one was hanging out about nine feet up. Nothing is easy about getting close to these suckers.Pantala flavescensThe broad hindwings are an adoption to life on the air for this migratory species. You can see the particularly long rear legs here, too, helping to prop the dragonfly away from the twig.

Ah, and you’ve noticed that differently colored pterostigma, haven’t you? They are usually red-orange on this species like three of the four here. A play of the light/shadow or some variation/mutation?

This is the 11th dragonfly species I have identified at Brooklyn Bridge Park. (And without a net, and I mean that literally.) I feel confident that there are more…and there’s still a good two-three months of dragonflying to be had this year. Now, if only those meadowhawks would slow down…


uo-ohIs this going to end like Bambi Meets Godzilla? (Click on the image if you have a tiny screen for the full nailed-claw effect.)

Well, probably not, as this is the turtle’s back leg and the reptile may not even be aware of the Pondhawk’s presence. And while Pondhawks are certainly serious contenders in their weight class….

More Odes

Tramea carolinaCarolina Saddlebags (Tramea carolina). The abdomen is red all the way to the black tip, but that’s impossible to see in this light. Two of these were patrolling the pond aggressively and charging at each other over and over to maintain dominance. They were about 12-15 feet up, and overhead they can easily be mistaken for genus-mate Black Saddlebags (T. lacerata). These shots were from a couple of brief moments of perching. Tramea carolinaDetail of the amazing color and venation of the wings. Erythemis simpliciollisHow many wings? Shadow play with a female Common/Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simpliciollis). My loose list of dragonfly species seen at Brooklyn Bridge Park now includes: Common Green Darner, Great Blue Skimmer, Blue Dasher, 12-Spotted Skimmer, Common (Eastern) Pondhawk, Black Saddlebags, Carolina Saddlebags, Painted Skimmer, Spot-winged Glider, and Eastern Amberwing. Those red meadowhawks, who never seem to stop flying, still elude me as to their identity (genus Sympetrum are “an intractable field problem” notes my guide). Ischnura hastataDamselflies, however, are still a work in progress. I mean that both for my own ID skills and the damage done by Sandy, which I think really reduced the damselfly population this season at Brooklyn Bridge Park. I saw four individual damselflies on this walk. This is a male Citrine Forktail (Ishnura hastata), just about an inch long. Even though it flew slowly and perched frequently, it never got out of the sedges so was a moving needle in a green haystack to photograph. You can just barely see the red stigmas in the forewings (click image to see larger version). The male of the species is unique in the world of damselflies: their red-orange forewing stigmas (or ptereostigma) are not on the leading edge of the wing, but rather one level of venation in. Stigmas are single cells that differ in color and texture from the rest of the wing. Not all damsels have stigmas. And some species have pseudostigmas, which are multicellular areas of contrasting color but otherwise similar in structure to the rest of the wing. I better stop while I’m ahead….Ischnura positaThe Fragile Forktail (Ischnura posits), at just under an inch long.

(Dragonflies and Damselflies are both members of the order Odonata, from the Greek for “toothed,” known as “odes” for short to admirers.)Dasher teed upBlue Dashers characteristically “teed up” on bare branches. Car antenna will work also, and so will the cables connecting lamp posts at Atlantic and Henry Streets; in fact, I’m seeing these things everywhere lately now that I know what to look for.

Great Blue Skimmers

Libellula vibransMale Great Blue Skimmer (Libellula vibrans). 2.2″ long. Note the wing pattern, seen better below; in addition to size this will help you distinguish these from the also blue males of the smaller Common/Eastern Pondhawk and even smaller Blue Dasher. This one is in a classic oblique perch here; the species will also perch horizontally, as the female below. Libellula vibransAs is often the case with dragonflies, the female Great Blue Skimmer looks rather different. There’s no reason to call her blue at all.Libellula vibransLibellula vibransThe female, here seen being grasped behind the head by the male as she holds on to his abdomen with her legs, was soon dipping her abdomen down on the surface of the water to lay her now-fertilized eggs. Not very daintily, like some dragonfly species, more like laying depth charges.

Swamp Darner

Epiaeschna herosA female Swamp Darner (Epiaeschna heros), one of the largest dragonflies in the east. A migratory species, averaging 3.4″ long. This is my first sighting. Epiaeschna herosI watched her deposit eggs into pieces of lumber that edged a portion of the Vale of Cashmere. All the other species of dragonflies I’ve seen deposit their eggs in water. The first picture posted above was taken during a pause between deposits. When she returned to planting eggs, she was attached by a Cat Bird who zoomed out of the bushes. Something of a dog-fight ensued, on the ground and in the air. The dragonfly escaped, twice, but the bird suddenly hopped into the bushes and then emerged, flying off with the long insect. A big meal for the bird; when it flew off it looked like the prey had been de-winged. Extraordinary to be so close to the scene. Luckily for E. heros in general, though, a good number of eggs had been planted.Epiaeschna herosA few minutes later, I noticed another depositing her eggs into a piece of water-logged rotten wood on the bottom of the Vale’s erstwhile pool.Epiaeschna herosHere’s a close-up of the thorn-like ovipositor cutting in. (Still wowing myself over this action shot, btw.) The wing-like structures are the cerci, or anal appendages. I don’t know what their function is. When I first saw them — huge dragonfly, huge cerci, at least on this species — I thought some other insect was biting the dragonfly’s terminal appendage. Epiaeschna herosDragonfly sex makes the birds, bees, and Weiners all look like amateurs. In the latter case, of course…


Erythemis simplicollisCommon or Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicollis). This is an immature male; his thorax will turn completely blue as he reaches maturity. Superficially like the common Blue Dasher, but larger, with clear wings, and white appendage. These Pondhawks are known as great predators, and capture and eat dragonflies their own size, including others of their own species. So look out, Pondhawks! A few days later, and some distance from water, I found a female of the species, electrically green:Erythemis simplicollis


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