Posts Tagged 'damselflies'

Familiar Bluet

Enallagma civile, the last damselfly of the year? This picture was taken on 9/24.This one on 10/6: tandem flight and egg-laying in Green-Wood’s Sylvan Water. I assume the larvae will overwinter.

Scandonata

So they have the same meadow hawk problem over there. These Sympetrum dragonflies are hard to ID in camera. Looks like S. vulgatum or S. striolatum are the options. Found around the moat of the Kastellet in Copenhagen, where the word for them is Hedelibel, or darter. The following mating damselflies were spotted in the same placid waters:Looks like the Small Red-eyed Damselfly (Erythromma viridulum). Lille Rødøjet Vandnymfe in Danish.

In Sweden, we didn’t have great dragonfly weather, but a big blue mosaic darner of the Aneshna genus, one of the Mosaiksländor in Swedish, was present on the sunny days. We were told that a week before many thousands had moved through, with lots of perching in the evening, but damned if I could get one of these to stop flying for a second for a photograph. With the Hobbies slicing and dicing the airspace overhead, they might have been wiser to take breathers on a perch under something occasionally. Really quite remarkable to watch the falcons zipping low over the golf courses and dunes to snag dragons, which they then eviscerated and gobbled up in the air. Not a lot of meat even on a big darner, so the Hobbies did it again and again.

Spreadwings

I have not come across any of the spreadwing damselflies in Brooklyn. These Lestidae family insects are the exception to the rule that damselflies rest with their wings folded back above their abdomen, in contrast to the dragonflies who don’t fold their wings at all.

This year I caught a glimpse of a spreadwing — their shape is unmistakable — through a thicket on Staten Island but couldn’t get my camera on it. A couple of weeks ago I finally captured one digitally north of the city. This is a male Slender Spreadwing (Lestes rectangularis). According to my go-to damselfly bible, Ed Lam’s Damselflies of the Northeast, the Slender is perhaps the most common in the region. It is also unique among the male spreadwings in not having a white tipped abdomen. The males, who run longer than the females, can be up to 2.5 inches long.Coincidently, we found this on the dashboard driving back from Virginia recently. It was quite dead.An immature male Slender, I believe. The only reason I miss being on Facebook is that I can’t submit pics to the Odonata wizards there, including Lam (who is working on a much anticipated guide to the dragonflies).

Dragons/Damsels

Remember the Sympetrums? Devilishly confusing meadowhawks. This a female; possibly a Ruby or Cherry-faced.The Variable Dancer (Argia fumipennis) male is uniquely patterned with purple and blue. They are also called Violet Dancers.A male has a female in tandem flight position, either pre- or post-mating. This is another species I’m seeing for the first time this summer; spotted in Westchester Co.

A bonus in the archives: looking over some of my old posts, I realized I had never identified this specimen from Arizona:Mexican Amberwing (Perithemis intensa). Here’s our Eastern Amberwing (P. tenera) for comparison:Some differences: Eastern has smaller, redder pterostigma (the colored panes on the leading edges of the wings); Mexican lacks markings on top of abdomen. These are both males: Eastern’s graspers, at end of abdomen look much lighter.

Ode to the Odonates

An immature female Eastern Forktail (Ischnura verticalis). Several members of of the Ischunura genus have immature females with orange on them, but telltale here: segments 1-3 are mostly orange, and that there’s no orange on segment 9. She will lose this color as she ages: the standard female form is an olive green, although there’s also a male-like female with pale green-blue details. An Orange Bluet male (Enallagma signatum). Notably about .5″ longer than the Forktail. (The duckweed here, especially in first pic, is host to a small insect that I don’t know.) Back to the inch-long specimens. This is a Fragile Forktail (Ischnura posita) male. Species is distinctive in both sexes for the broken “shoulder stripe.”Slaty Skimmer (Libellula incesta) male. (About 2″ long.) If you’re just joining us: a quick way to tell damselflies from dragonflies is that dragonflies rest with their wings spread, damselflies with their wings closed above their abdomen. (Cavet: spread-winged damselflies; always an outlier somewhere.) The Slaty is a new species for me. Only took one picture because I wasn’t paying all that much attention: thought it might be an Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis) male in different light. The Pondhawk — smaller, powdery blue, different eye color — also has notable white appendages, down there at the end of his abdomen, the parts he uses to clasp the female in the mating grip.

Just Ds

Blue-fronted Dancer (Argia apicalis).These were found around the Bronx River in the Thane Forest at the NYBG. They get a good distance away from the water, for damselflies. All the above are males. The tan one is a juvenile. Here’s a brown form female. A blue form female. Complicated, eh? Add the juvenile female, and you have five basic versions of this one species.

And so small.For instance, you know how small duckweed is, right? This is a male Skimming Bluet (Enallagma geminatum); they run from about 0.8″-1.1″. Male clasping female right behind the head. He will hold her while she oviposits. First time I’ve seen this species. You can just see the distinctive wavy line on segment two. These were in the pond at the end of Wetlands Trail.Male Azure Bluet (Enallagma aspersum), in the duckweed-free Native Plant Garden. Neon blue at both ends. The Garden is overrun with fans of Dale Chihuly’s corporate-friendly glasswork and missing the real fireworks. (A week later, by the way, there was only one Azure Bluet to be seen of the dozens and dozens seen earlier.)

D&D Tuesday

D&D stands for Damselflies & Dragonflies. At least here it does. This is a Great Blue Skimmer male (Libellula vibrans).This one is actually fairly red, so feel free to curse this backlighting. A Calico Pennant (Celithemis elisa). A first for me.
Female Needham’s Skimmer (Libellula needhami). Another first-time sighting. And the male Needham’s, I believe.Another view of this perching-by-the-pond-(the female was off a way in the meadow)-at- the-limit-of-my-optics dragonfly.

These were all spotted on Staten Island, the Odonata hub of the five boroughs.

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FYI: Geoff Wisner will be reading from his juicy collection Thoreau’s Animals tomorrow in Inwood.


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