Posts Tagged 'damselflies'



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.

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

D&D Roundup

Fragile Forktail (Ischnura posita) female. Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis) male.Familiar Bluet (Enallagma civile) male.Eastern Amberwing (Perithemis tenera) male.Sometimes, we must work with the image. This looks like a Stream Bluet (Enallagma exsulans), a new species for me. Only segment 9 is completely blue; the blue rings on the other abdominal segments are conspicuous. Plus habitat is a good tell: this the “most common species at running waters” says Ed Lam. Of, course there isn’t much running water in Brooklyn. I saw this one on the Cross River.

*

Let’s review. A President elected by a minority of voters. Who has utter contempt for truth, justice, and the American way. Who has a clear affinity for authoritarianism. Who is a monstrously corrupt kleptocrat who privileges the family businesses over the nation’s. Who has a cabinet of ideological horrors dedicated to stripping away protections of our food, water, workplaces, & etc. Who is backed by a shameless and ruthless party of corporate plutocracy (and racism, to keep the serfs on board) dedicated to the annulment of democracy (voter suppression and gerrymandering for a start).

How long will the Republic last this assault? Yet, as David Cole notes in this interview, we still have a huge advantage in defending our rights and liberties against this clear and present danger: a very robust civil society and an independent judiciary.  Above all, citizenship!

The old American mule, as sick as she is, hasn’t been ground into burgers yet!

Ebony Jewelwing

Flying moth-like on broad dark wings, their abdomens metallic green or blue, depending on the light, Calopteryx maculata are probably the most recognizable of our damselflies.Males are pictured above. These and the females below were spotted around the Cross River in the Ward Pound Ridge Reserve in Westchester County. I’ve not seen them in NYC*.The females have distinctive white pseugostigmas.

*They have been documented on Staten Island. In the 2009 state odonate survey, Staten Island (Richmond Co.) had 75 species of dragonflies and damselflies; Brooklyn (Kings Co.) had 23. I’ve tallied 24 species in Brooklyn.


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