Posts Tagged 'odonates'

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.

Dragonlets

Actual entomologists often trap their subject specimens. Some dragonflies can’t be identified unless they’re in the hand. Others rarely stop moving. (Red meadowhawks, I’m thinking of you.)Not that “capturing” a dragonfly by camera is easy. The swaying reed, the moving camera, the photographer’s crappy eyesight… When I spot a dragonfly I don’t think I’ve seen before, my heart starts racing. Which is unfortunate in dragonfly season, already hot enough as it is. These were definitely unfamiliar. Nice of them to perch, too!These are all Seaside Dragonlets (Erythrodiplax berenice). The darks ones are male, the yellow female.Look at this patterning! I think this is a variation on the female.Females further south don’t have as much spotting on the wings.

It turns out I’ve seen the females before, on Plumb Beach, which is not far from where I saw these at Marine Park. That first time was under quite different light conditions, though. The jumping yellow here wasn’t imprinted on my eyes the first time.

This species is unusual: they lay their eggs in salt water, so look for them around salt marshes.

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Paine: “Let them call me rebel and welcome, I feel no concern from it; but I should suffer the misery of devils, were I to make a whore of my soul by swearing allegiance to one whose character is that of a sottish, stupid, stubborn, worthless, brutish man.”


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