Posts Tagged 'dragonflies'

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.

Darners

The mosaic darners of the genus Aeshna are some of our largest dragonflies. There are 20 similar looking species in North America, so they can be a bear to identify. This looks like a Shadow Darner (Aeshna umbrosa), photographed recently in Westchester Co. They run about 2.9″ long.

Shadow Darners can be seen well into the fall. They are one of the last Odonata flying around here. The only other time I’ve seen one was in late October.

Our usual darner is the 3″-long Common Green Darner. Migratory, they can sometimes be seen in good numbers over meadows this time of year.

But our biggest darner is the 3.4″ Swamp Darner (Epiaeschna heros). That link is to the time I watched one lay her eggs in rotting wood in Prospect Park.I don’t run into Swamp Darners often. Recently, though, we found this dead one in the NYBG on the bridge over the Bronx River. Talk about ol’ blue eyes.

Wing Bands

The Black Saddlebags (Tramea lacerata) is a dragonfly rarely seen perched. But sometimes you get lucky.The “saddlebags” = the dark coloration of the hind wings. This could be an immature male or a female. The yellow spots on the abdomen are the ambiguous tell: a mature male won’t have these.A closer look to examine the venation. There’s also a Carolina Saddlebags (T. carolina) in our parts, but it is seen with less frequency. On the Carolina, the saddlebags are red. The Black Saddlebags is one of the migratory species being tracked by the Migratory Dragonfly Partnership. This is a Widow Skimmer (Libellula luctuosa) male. I just saw my first this summer in Westchester Co., but could not get a photo of the very busy fliers then. A few days later, in Virginia, I was able to photograph a couple.The clear/white/brown (it looks black in flight) patterning makes this one of the most distinctive of all our dragonflies. Even without a getting picture, or even a long view, I could take a mental description to the references and add it to my list (as I did recently with a pair of Halloween Pennants flying in tandem). The females lack the white bands, so she could potentially be confused with the Saddlebags even though she has the bases of all four of her wings stained brown.

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.

Red Meadowhawks

Obelisking meadowhawk of the Sympetrum genus. This abdomen-up position minimizes the amount of heat hitting the body.The Sympetrum are difficult to distinguish out-of-hand in the field. This could be the White-faced, Cherry-faced, or Ruby-Faced.This male was the only specimen seen at NYBG. The females are even harder to distinguish, but they all know the drill: the sex parts are all unique for the individual species. This dragon made many sorties and perched in multiple spots within a very short compass, but he always faced the pond.Another, this time on Staten Island. Note that segment 2 of the abdomen doesn’t seem as keel-like as the one in the first three pictures. Also the only example seen at this location. They seem to like the perch and foray style, unlike, say, the gliders, which are constantly on patrol in the air.

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.

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.


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