Posts Tagged 'Odonata'

Rambur’s Forktail

Ischnura ramburiiI’ve spotted another Brooklyn damselfly species, bringing my NYC list up to nine species. This is a male Rambur’s Forktail (Ischnura ramburii). Approximately 1.25″ long. He was flitting about the edge of Green-Wood’s Sylvan Water among a fair number of Familiar Bluets.Enallagma civileThis is a pair of Familiars (Enallagma civile) in the mating grip: the male will hold on as the female lays her eggs, and even when she’s not, which precludes another male from assuming the position.

According to odonate master Ed Lam, there’s a population of Rambur’s at Jamaica Bay and they will sometimes stray inland.

Maryland Monument Dasher

wreathTwo hundred and forty years ago today, the British and their Hessian swine-mercenaries walloped the still-loose conglomeration that was the Continental Army in Brooklyn. There’s a memorial in Prospect Park to the Maryland 400, troops who held the Old Stone House (the existing structure in J. J. Byrne Park is a recreation) down in the Gowanus while the rest of Washington’s soldiers made a pell-mell strategic retreat to Brooklyn Heights, and thence across the river. Geo. is supposed to have said “what brave fellows I must this day lose” about the sacrificial Marylanders.

Yet the British unaccountably did not press their advantage in Brooklyn. They occupied New York, but lost their opportunity of crushing the new American army right here. Big mistake. This, by the way, is also why we don’t have a national health system today.

Someone has laid a fresh wreath on the memorial in honor of the 400.

A pair of Blue Dasher dragonflies, concerned with their own history, were using the fence to tee up. This is the female.

Blue Dasher, White Tail

Pachydiplax longipennisYou have to get pretty close to see the white face on one of NYC’s most common dragonflies, the Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis). This is a male; as he gets older, his blue abdomen will get more powdery or chalkier looking. Such pruinescence, as it’s called, is caused by wax exuded from the animals’ cuticle. It’s seen on (mostly) males of many species of odonates, including spectacularly the Common Whitetail:Plathemis lydiaPlathemis lydia.

Trio of Dragonflies

Libellula pulchella12-spotted Skimmer (Libellula pulchella) male.
Plathemis lydiaCommon Whitetail (Plathemis lydia) male.
Erythemis simplicicollisEastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis) male.

What’s up with all the males? They’re patrolling territory, in this case the ponds of Green-Wood, while females generally only show up to these sites when they want to mate. Otherwise the females are over the fields and meadows, at the edge of the woods, “across the river and through the trees”….

Orange Bluet

Enallagma signatumMost of the bluet damselflies are, you guessed it, blue, but this one bucks the trend. Sort of: this is a mature male, but when he was younger, he had blue markings instead of these orange ones. Enallagma signatumEnallagma signatum.

Seaside Dragonlet

Erythrodiplax bereniceThis is a female Seaside Dragonlet (Erythrodiplax berenice), spotted recently on Plumb Beach. This is the only American species of dragonfly that breeds in salt water, in this case probably the saltwater marsh tucked behind the beach. To be honest, I couldn’t see any of the handsome orange and black patterning on the abdomen and thorax  in the bright sunlight. It was only after looking at the pictures later that I could identify this one.Erythrodiplax bereniceSo this makes for 16 species of dragonflies I’ve identified within New York City. This has all been by eye (and lens-enchanced eye); hardcore odonate-philes will net specimens. (Would definitely get a few more if I snagged ’em of the air and examined closely, but I’m guessing that would not be a pleasant experience for them.) All of these have been in Brooklyn except the Unicorn Clubtail. I have not explored Staten Island, the ode mecca of the city, nearly enough.

Common Green Darner (Anax junius)
Unicorn Clubtail (Arigomphus villosipes) *Bronx
Swamp Darner (Epiaeschna héros)
Common/Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simpliciollis)
Seaside Dragonlet (Erythrodiplax berenice)
Twelve-spotted Skimmer (Libellula pulchella)
Painted Skimmer (Libellula semifasciata)
Great Blue Skimmer (Libellula vibrans)
Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis)
Wandering Glider (Pantala flavescens)
Spot-winged Glider (Pantala hymenaea)
Eastern Amberwing (Perithemis genera)
Common Whitetail (Plathemis lydia)
Autumn Meadowhawk (Sympetrum vicinum)
Carolina Saddlebags (Tramea carolina)
Black Saddlebags (Tramea lacerata)

Here are all my dragonfly posts.

And here are damselfly species I’ve IDed in NYC, a harder proposition since they’re generally so much smaller. (And when I say I’ve IDed them, that means I’ve often had help from the Northeast Odonata group on Facebook.)

Blue-fronted Dancer (Argia apicalis)
Azure Bluet (Enallagma aspersum)
Familiar Bluet (Enallagama civile)
Orange Bluet (Enallagma signatum)
Citrine Forktail (Ishnura hastata)
Lilypad Forktail (Ischnura kellicotti)
Fragile Forktail (Ischnura posita)
Eastern Forktail (Ischnura verticalis)

Check out this NYS odonate survey completed in 2010. 22 species of d & d were noted in Kings County (Brooklyn), an estimated 75% of what they thought there should be. The Seaside Dragonlet was NOT recorded on that survey, although it was in the historic records they consulted so they counted it.

The Dragons Are Hunting

IMG_8947The shed exuvia of an Odonata. Dragon- and damselflies spend their larval stage underwater. These voraciously predatory nymphs climb up on reeds and other vertical structures, anchor themselves, and begin to break out and unfurl their wings, harden off, and then take to the air, leaving these ghostly husks behind.Perithemis teneraA male Eastern Amberwing (Perithemis tenera), our smallest dragonfly. Some damselfly species are actually longer. Erythemis simplicicollisA male Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis), I think; the tell-tale wing markings are obscure here and I’m rusty…


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