During late-May 2014, Mike Powell and I were photographing female Swamp Darner dragonflies (Epiaeschna heros) laying eggs (oviposition) in a drainage ditch near a vernal pool in the forest at Huntley Meadows Park. I noticed a damselfly and thought, “It’s just a damselfly; the Swamp Darner is more interesting.” The damselfly was perching closer to Mike, so I waited to take a few photos after Mike finished “working the shot.”
When I revisited the photos months later, I realized the damselfly was a species I’d never seen. Turns out it’s another new species of spreadwing damselfly for Huntley Meadows Park!
Ed Lam, author and illustrator of Damselflies of the Northeast, identified the specimen as either a Southern Spreadwing damselfly (Lestes australis) or Sweetflag Spreadwing damselfly (Lestes forcipatus). According to Ed, this individual “… is a male. Male Southern and Sweetflag cannot be separated in the field.”
Talk about a missed opportunity. Months later it was too late to catch-and-release one or more of these damselflies in order to examine the specimens in-hand, under magnification. At this point, we have to wait until next year to confirm the specific identity of our discovery. It’s going to be another long winter!
So what’s the take-away from my experience? Don’t be dismissive. Look closely at every subject before you decide it is/isn’t photo-worthy — you never know what you may find!
- Another new species of spreadwing damselfly…
- A Southern Fortnight, Part 1 – Year-long mystery solved!
- A Southern Fortnight, Part 2 – Damselfly terminal appendages (male)
- A Southern Fortnight, Part 3 – Southern Spreadwing damselfly (male)
- A Southern Fortnight, Part 4 – Southern Spreadwing damselfly (female)
- A Southern Fortnight, Part 5 – Southern Spreadwing damselflies (mating pairs, in tandem)
- A Southern Fortnight, Part 6 – Damselfly reproductive anatomy
- A Southern Fortnight, Part 7 – “Arty”
Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.
Tags: adult female, Epiaeschna heros, Family Lestidae (Spreadwings), Lestes australis, Lestes forcipatus, male, oviposition, Southern Spreadwing damselfly, Swamp Darner dragonfly, Sweetflag Spreadwing damselfly, vernal pool