Archive for November, 2014

Shadow Darner dragonfly (male)

November 10, 2014

Shadow Darner dragonfly (male)

The preceding Shadow Darner dragonfly (Aeshna umbrosa) was spotted on 24 October 2014 near a vernal pool in the forest at Huntley Meadows Park. This individual is a male, as indicated by its coloration and terminal appendages.

Female Shadow Darner dragonflies are polymorphic: heteromorphs are duller in color than males; andromorphs are male-like in color.

Related Resources: High-resolution digital scans from the Western Odonata Scans in Life collection, Slater Museum of Natural History, University of Puget Sound.

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Huntley insects endorse Coleman camp stool

November 8, 2014

In addition to my photography gear, I usually carry a Coleman camp stool when I go photowalking at Huntley Meadows Park. I am the self-described (and self-appointed) “Chair-man of the Boardwalk.”

The small, lightweight folding chair is good for resting while waiting for “the game to come to me.” The camp stool also enables me to get closer to subjects either on- or near the ground. And I think it’s easier to hold my camera rock-steady when I’m sitting on the chair with my elbows resting on my knees.

I like my Coleman camp stool. Several of my favorite insects at the park like to rest on the camp stool too!

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (male) | 26 September 2014

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (male) | 20 October 2014

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (male) | 09 October 2014

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (male, perching on Coleman camp stool)

Red-footed Cannibalfly (female) | 02 October 2014

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Common Green Darner dragonfly (female)

November 6, 2014

A Common Green Darner dragonfly (Anax junius) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female.

The preceding Common Green Darner dragonfly (Anax junius) was spotted on 20 October 2014, perching briefly near a vernal pool in the forest at Huntley Meadows Park. This individual is a female.

Common Green Darner is one of at least five major species of dragonflies known to be migratory in North America. See interactive three-dimensional (3-D) virtual imagery of the five migratory dragonflies, including Common Green Darner, provided by the Migratory Dragonfly Partnership.

Related Resources: Digital Dragonflies, presenting high-resolution digital scans of living dragonflies.

  • Genus Anax | Anax junius | Common Green Darner | female | top view
  • Genus Anax | Anax junius | Common Green Darner | female | side view

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Autumn Meadowhawks like timberlands too!

November 4, 2014

The following Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) were spotted near a vernal pool in the forest during several photowalks at Huntley Meadows Park in October 2014.

My speculation is meadowhawk dragonflies — including both Autumn Meadowhawks and Blue-faced Meadowhawks — are arboreal. They live in trees for months and burst on the scene at ground/water level when it’s time to mate. [For details regarding my theory, see the “Editor’s Note” in Arboreal dragonflies like timberlands.]

Is there evidence that supports my theory? Well, the following photos clearly show Autumn Meadowhawks like timberlands. Timberland Boots, that is. Yuk-yuk!

Guys like ’em …

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (male, perching on my Timberland Boot)

30 October 2014 | Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (male)

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (male, perching on my Timberland Boot)

30 October 2014 | Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (male)

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (male, perching on my Timberland Boot)

30 October 2014 | Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (male)

Gals like ’em …

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (female, perching on my Timberland Boot)

30 October 2014 | Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (female)

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (female, perching on my Timberland Boot)

30 October 2014 | Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (female)

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (female, perching on my Timberland Boot)

30 October 2014 | Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (female)

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (female, perching on my Timberland Boot)

30 October 2014 | Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (female)

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (female, perching on my Timberland Boot)

20 October 2014 | Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (female)

And couples like ’em too!

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (mating pair, in tandem, perching on my Timberland Boot)

27 October 2014 | Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (mating pair, in tandem)

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (mating pair, in tandem, perching on my Timberland Boot)

20 October 2014 | Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (mating pair, in tandem)

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (mating pair, in tandem, perching on my Timberland Boot)

20 October 2014 | Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (mating pair, in tandem)

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (mating pair, in tandem, perching on my Timberland Boot)

20 October 2014 | Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (mating pair, in tandem)

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Eat or be eaten

November 2, 2014

Consider the simple life of a female Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum vicinum): One day she’s basking in warm afternoon sunlight, eating a smaller winged insect while waiting to mate with a passing male. Life is good.

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (female, eating unknown prey)

20 October 2014 | Huntley Meadows Park

A few days later, the tables were turned and the female Autumn Meadowhawk was eaten by a larger male Shadow Darner dragonfly (Aeshna umbrosa), as shown in the following time-series of photos.

Shadow Darner dragonfly (male, eating an Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly)

24 October 2014 | Huntley Meadows Park

The Shadow Darner’s prey is a female Autumn Meadowhawk, as indicated by several field markers including its coloration and red pterostigmata; also, the abdomen of female Autumn Meadowhawks is thicker near the thorax than for males.

Although it is improbable the two female Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies shown in these photographs are the same individual, they were spotted near the same vernal pool in the forest at Huntley Meadows Park.

Shadow Darner dragonfly (male, eating an Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly)

24 October 2014 | Huntley Meadows Park

The Shadow Darner ate the Autumn Meadowhawk quickly. Game over, man!

Shadow Darner dragonfly (male)

24 October 2014 | Huntley Meadows Park

The Backstory: In a recent post in the Northeast Odonata Facebook group I said, “The [Shadow Darner] dragonfly flew several laps around a meadow near a vernal pool, perching in three places for no more than a second each time.” Since then, I have observed Shadow Darners at the same location several times. They fly close to the ground most of the time, dipping in-and-out of the ground cover repeatedly. Initially, I thought they were looking for a place to rest; now I think they are searching for food. [Some odonate experts speculate male Shadow Darners behave like this when they are looking for a female.]

On Friday, 24 October 2014, I saw a Shadow Darner dip toward the grass: it emerged with a relatively large insect in its grasp; after a lap or two above the field, the Shadow Darner landed on a nearby tree. Turns out the darner had captured a female Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly!

Has anyone observed Shadow Darners hawking like the ones at Huntley Meadows Park?

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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