Posts Tagged 'dragonflies'

Damsels & Dragons

Argia apicalisThe Blue-fronted Dancer (Argia apicalis). One and half inches long, found along the Bronx River and further away on woodland paths. I’m getting better at distinguished these wee things, which means getting closer with lens of varying sorts. This is a male. Species IDs include the black hair-line markings on the thorax and the blue of the last three segments of the abdomen (compare with the slightly smaller Azure Bluet below). I saw two other damsels on the same paths and figured I had at least two species between the three different types, but it turned out that there are two variations for the female: Argia apicalisa brown form;Argia apicalisand a blue form. Note the absence of a colorful final trio of segments on the abdomen; there are instead tan lines on top and side of segments 8 and 9. Ed Lam’s Damselflies of the Northeast remains the single best source for nailing the identity of these slender flying jewels.

Single click on these images to get larger versions for more detail.

The Odonata, the order of insects that is made up by damselflies and dragonflies, have ten segments to their abdomens, counting from the thorax. Here’s a male Azure Bluet (Enallagma aspersum):Enallagma aspersumIn this species, segment 7 is extensively blue, a tell-tale mark. Note also the much wider mid dorsal stripe on the thorax and the large eye spots.
Perithemis teneraOur smallest dragonfly is the Eastern Amberwing (Perithemis tenera), which is actually smaller, length-wise, than many species of damselflies. But note this thick, thick abdomen: very dragonfly, that, and especially so in the females, as here. This seems like a boom year for the species. Notice, though, that almost all the ones flying low over the edges of local waterbodies are male, staking out their territory and defending it. Their territory: good egg-laying sites. The females, who have splotchy instead of amber wings, are usually found elsewhere, for instance, up in the meadows as in this case, until they venture down for a bout of the ol’ oingo-boingo.

Freshwater

Perithemis teneraI was enjoying the life above the Duckweed (Lemnaceae) recently, marveling that I’ve never seen so many Eastern Amberwings (Perithemis tenera).Pachydiplax longipennisThere were also a few Blue Dashers (Pachydiplax longipennis), making more Blue Dashers.A damselfly of unknown provenance was depositing eggs.

And then, along the edge of the lake, some disturbance from below. There was an agitated simmering, not quite bubbling. I wondered what it might be. Then, rising, a mass of little black fish, tightly clumped together at the surface, swarming over each other, some half out of the water momentarily. They were feasting on something. fish The individual fish visible on the edges of this mass had serious whiskers, barbels, making me think of some kind of catfish. What the hell, I took the plunge.fishI’m taking a semi-wild guess that these are Black Bullheads (Ameiurus melas); what do you think?fishThe barbels are flush to the sides here.LemnaceaeAs an added benefit of my open-handed catch and release, the underside of the Duckweed, some of the smallest flowering plants anywhere, is revealed as purple.

Flying Now

Vanessa carduiPainted Lady (Vanessa cardui). I’ve posted previously about separating these from the similar American Lady butterflies (Vanessa virginiensis); from this view, the four big wing spots mark the Painted; two big spots the American.Enallagma signatumOrange Bluet (Enallagma signatum) male. Small and slender, but striking when you see it: at Green-Wood’s Sylvan Water. Enallagma signatumAt the nearby Valley Water, the Orange Bluets were mating. Anax juniusCommon Green Darners (Anax junius) were also reproducing there. Here the male continues to hold the female as she deposits eggs. I have seen females of the species depositing eggs on her own, sans the grip.ThorybesNorthern Cloudywing (Thorybes pylades). Enallagama civileI wish there was a special place in hell for the people who just toss their butts any- and everywhere (take a look down street gratings some day). This Familiar Bluet (Enallagama civile) male seems to be less censorious. CercerisA couple of Cerceris genus wasps were hanging out on some rogue squash plants on the edge of the Long Meadow.Pholisora catullusCommon Sootywing (Pholisora catullus) hitting the light just right on pollinator-magnet Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis).

Dragonfly Days of Summer

Plathemis lydiaMale Common Whitetail (Plathemis lydia). Very distinctive. Here’s another view of another:Plathemis lydiaThe tail is slightly bluish, actually. Great example of pruinosity, the waxy bloom (can be blue, gray, or white) on mature odonates, especially males.

Dragonfly season is upon us. During this weekend wanderings in Brooklyn Bridge Park, Green-Wood Cemetery, and Woodlawn Cemetery, I saw Blue Dashers, Eastern Amberwings, Green Darners, Black Saddlebags, Carolina Saddlebags, and the three species pictured here.Libellula pulchellaTwelve-spotted Skimmer (Libellula pulchella) male.Arigomphus villosipesAlways exciting to see something I don’t recognize. A male Unicorn Clubtail (Arigomphus villosipes). Check out those cerci at the end of the tail. “Typically mud-bottomed lakes and ponds” says Paulson on this species’ habitat, which is right on: various carp were splashing in the murk of Woodlawn Lake.

Painted Skimmer

Libellula semifasciataFlying gold at Big John’s Pond: a Painted Skimmer (Libellula semifasciata).

TX Insects

HeteronemiidaeWalking Stick on Peter’s bins. Texas has at least 16 species. AttaLeaf-cutter ant (Atta texana) highway. The ants are returning to their sprawling underground colonies with leaf fragments, which, farmer-like, they feed to the fungus they actually eat.Micrathyria hageniiThornbush Dasher (Micrathyria hagenii).Erythrodiplax umbrataBand-winged Dragonlet (Erythrodiplax umbrata).MyrmeleontidaeAntlion. This is the adult stage.antlionsWe saw many antlion traps, where buried nymphs wait for their lunch to fall down into the soft sand pits. txt6Large Carpenter bee of some kind in the bottlebrush. Anthanassa texanaTexan Crescents (Anthanassa texana) perpetuating the species.
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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.
i14
i2
i6
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


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  • Two more Monarch Butterflies in @BklynBrdgPark, and they were doing mating flight. Milkweed of at least three sps to lay eggs on. 2 hours ago
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