Posts Tagged 'dragonflies'

Flying

Insect-summer is over. But last week I was in Prospect Park and saw masses of dragonflies over the Butterfly Meadow, in a patch of the Nethermead, and then in two clusters along the Long Meadow. They all seemed to be Common Green Darners, the large migrating species. And they were hunting on the wing. Gnats, for want of a better description, filled the air.

And hunting for the dragonflies, a Kestrel, swooping in great deep arcs before briefly perching way up on a tree-top.falco

Skimmer Fore and Aft

Libellula pulchellaFemale Twelve-spotted Skimmers (Libellula pulchella) seen on Staten Island and Brooklyn.Libellula pulchella

Sympetrum Meadowhawks

Sympertrum vicinumThe red meadowhawk dragonflies are difficult to identify in the field, since several members of the genus Sympetrum look rather similar.Sympetrum vicinumBut I figured these out because of the legs. These are Autumn Meadowhawks (Sympetrum vicinum), in some sources called Yellow-legged; other meadowhawks have black legs. They’re small: 1.3″ long. Sympetrum vicinumTheir colors, especially the bright males, rival fall’s leaves.Sympetrum vicinum“Typically the last species on the wing northern climes,” says the Stokes guide, although it was a balmy 80 when I ran into them in Green-Wood this weekend.

Future Odes

Perithemis teneraEastern Amberwings (Perithemis tenera) in the reproductive wheel: the male holds the female by the back of the head; the female curves her abdomen up and forwards his genitalia, located (counterintuitively?) at the base of his abdomen. Pachydiplax longipennisA female Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis) dipping her abdomen down to lay fertilized eggs in a bit of water floating on a lily. Enallagma civileIn some species of Odonates, the male will continue to hold the female after mating and through the egg-laying process, precluding another male from mating with her, as with these Familiar Bluets (Enallagma civile). They can fly in tandem like this. Some species’ males will scoop out a previous male’s sperm from the female before adding his own with his specially equipped penis.Pachydiplax longipennisBlue Dasher females don’t seem to need chaperones. And look at all the eggs! Like pieces of short-grain rice, but much smaller. Of course, you know many will not make it to adulthood. These eggs were another post-photo discovery.

Venation

Libellula vibransMale Great Blue Skimmer (Libellula vibrans).Plathemis lydiaCommon Whitetail (Plathemis lydia) male.Libellula pulchellaForewings of female Twelve-spotted Skimmer (Libellula pulchella). I found this with a little bit of thorax exoskeleton a few blocks from home. Extremely lightweight, and prone to blowing away in a weak breeze.Libellula pulchellaSome magnification. Tramea lacerataBlack Saddlebags (Tramea lacerata) female. Hindwings are especially wide on this species.

Hanging the Night

Libellula pulchellaThis Twelve-spotted Skimmer (Libellula pulchella) was parked just off the path around 730pm, so I think it was roosting for the night. The black markings looked velvety in the light.Libellula pulchellaThis is a mature male. If you counted the white spots, too, he would be a twenty-spotted skimmer. To matters more confusing, this species used to be known as the Ten-spot… can you guess why?

Common Green Darner

Anax juniusA male Common Green Darner (Anax junius), one of our largest species of dragonfly. You should really click on the picture for a larger view, since there is some great detail here because this one perched quite a while below eye-level, allowing us all good looks as he rubbed his front legs over his eyes. Note how large those eyes are: dragonflies are like raptors, depending on vision to hunt. A migratory species, this three-inch long darner is usually the first dragonfly seen in the spring and one of the last in the fall (a female is pictured in the link).


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