Posts Tagged 'damselflies'

More Exuviae

An emergent damselfly next to the husk of its former, aquatic life stage. When they first emerge as their adult, flying form, they don’t have much color. Their wings unfurl and harden off, like their new exoskeleton. They can’t fly immediately.When they can fly, they will sometimes take shelter in trees, bushes, etc., to finish up. The wings are milky at first, make them look a bit like craneflies in flight. More exuviae. This all happen to be from dragonflies, not damselflies.These all seem to have a good grip, but they are very insubstantial. They’ll blow out of your hand at the hint of a breeze.

Exuviae

Wait… what? This Rambur’s Forktail damselfly is perched on the exuviae of a dragonfly.Another view of the male Rambur’s green-blue color pattern. Dragon- and damselfly eggs are laid on or near water. The larval stage is aquatic. After a season, or a year (or more depending on species and location), the aquatic nymph crawls out of the water, onto a twig, stone, etc. A floating leaf in this case. The adults emerge from these, with wings! The remaining husks of exosleton are called exuviae. These were left by dragonflies: the short wing-like gill structures on the back tell you this. This is what’s left of an aquatic damselfly. The gills are at the end of the abdomen. This is about an inch-long and quite hard to see from up above. There were a lot of dragonfly exuviae around the Sylvan Water the other day, presumably from Eastern Amberwings, which were all over the place. This was the only damselfly exuvia I found, even though there were several adult damselflies flying.And mating…

Three Common Brooklyn Damselflies

In my experience, these are the three most common Brooklyn damselflies. Eastern Forktail male. Beware that Rambur’s Forktail and Furtive Forktail males also have variations on this green thorax/blue end segments coloring. Fragile Forktail male. The broken green lines on the thorax, upside down exclamation points in this case, are unique. Not sure where this “Fragile” name comes from, since I see this species all over the place. Seems like a tough little critter to me.This is a female Forktail — you can just see the exclamation points. Note that the scale is different for all these pictures. The Forktails (Ischnura genus) are small, running from just under an inch to nearly an inch and a half long depending on the species.Here’s a Fragile ovipositing, dipping her abdomen under water to lay her eggs. Familiar Bluet male. Several of the mostly-blue bluets of the Enallagama genus can only really be told apart by their cerci. These are the structures at the end of the abdomen. They use these to grasp females during sex. Only male and females of the same species “fit” together. Attached to him just behind her head, she can bend forward to attach herself to his second abdominal section, the location of his genitalia.Behold, the “wheel” of mating. There are two damselfly nymph husks on this vertical twig. After hatching, damselfly larva become fierce little aquatic predators. They molt as they grow underwater. Given the date these were spotted, early June, these must have overwintered in Sylvan Water before emerging on a warm day to break out as the adult, flying form. See the green eyes of an emerging adult? It will have to harden off and develop some color over the next few hours.Looks like a brand new Fragile Forktail, soon to start clearing the air of tiny insects. (Click all images to fill uyp your screen.)

Odes

Spot-winged Glider, in a rare perch. They can spend hours in the air.Blue Dasher male, quite common and frequently perched.Eastern Pondhawk male.Male Painted SkimmerThis damselfly is peculiar. I can find no matching ID for it, and both iNaturalist and bugguide.net remain silent to my queries. I think it may be a maturing andromorph (that is, male-like) female Eastern Forktail. Lam illustrates six forms of Ischnura verticalis; Paulson pictures five forms. None of their examples are quite this one, though, Bar-winged Skimmer male. A new species for me.

All spotted in either Brooklyn or the Bronx recently. A quick reminder: males are usually patrolling water bodies, which females only visit for mating purposes.And here’s a female Common Whitetail, away from the water…

And the Damsels

Still in Virginia: Female Fragile Forktail (Ischnura posita) depositing eggs.Furtive Forktail (Ischnura prognata) male, a first for me. Such a challenge to photograph these wee critters!And then to ID them! Immediately above and below, a female Familiar Bluet ((Enallagama civile)). (My best guess: iNaturalist and bug guide.net haven’t come through.) The females of this species come in three color forms!Here’s a Familiar Bluet male (above & below).

Enter The Dragons

A trip a few states south results in a preview of the shape of Odonata to come. Emerging adult dragonflies in a small pond. There were about a dozen. Eastern Pondhawks, I think. Once they wiggle out of the husks of their larval forms, they need to harden off, develop their color, stiffen their wings. I’d never seen this in action. It’s slow-going…Meanwhile, in a piney wood a few counties away, a female Blue Corporal (Ladona deplanata) is already up and at ’em. A new species for me. Did not see the male. Often, males dragonflies and damselflies will stake-out and patrol their territories, usually water bodies, while the females are in the distance, only approaching when they’re ready to mate.Painted Skimmer (Libellula semifasciata) glorious in the sun.Immature Common Whitetail (Plathemis lydia) male above and mature male below.

One Giant Spreadwing

The largest damselfly in the Northeast is a Southwestern species that has been expanding its range our way for the last century. The Giant Spreadwing Archilestes grandis can be up to 2.4″ long, as big as a medium-sized dragonfly. I spotted two males in the Bronx and had a very hard time getting a usable image. (Previous to getting my new camera: there’s always next year… one hopes.) Studied them intently through the binoculars, however: highlights include the bright blue eyes and wide yellow stripe on the thorax.

Someone posted a picture of a pair mating at this location on iNaturalist two days previous to my sighting. Let’s hope the pesticides spread in this wetlands and pond complex at the NY Botanical Garden don’t preclude a return of this impressive species next season.

For those keeping count, I’ve now seen 12 species of damselflies in NYC and all have lived to tell the tale! That includes two spreadwing species in the Bronx; I’ve yet to see any spreadwings in Brooklyn. Amongst the non-spreadwings, the Familiar Bluet and the Fragile Forktail are the most frequently spotted.


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