You look Familiar.

Do I know you? You look familiar. Like a Familiar Bluet damselfly (Enallagma civile), that is.

A Familiar Bluet damselfly (Enallagma civile) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

23 SEP 2015 | Huntley Meadows Park | Familiar Bluet (male)

This individual is a male, as indicated by its coloration and terminal appendages.

A Familiar Bluet damselfly (Enallagma civile) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

23 SEP 2015 | Huntley Meadows Park | Familiar Bluet (male)

Many American Bluets, members of the Pond Damsels Family of damselflies, can be difficult to identify, especially in the field. There are many species of bluets, most of them are blue, and many of them look similar. That being said, identification of bluet damselflies is relatively simple at Huntley Meadows Park. (Yay, another reason to love the park!)

The fact of the matter is you’re unlikely to see more than one or two of the blue bluets on the Friends of Huntley Meadows Park Odonata species list of damselflies, especially if you never venture beyond the boardwalk: Familiar Bluet (Enallagma civile); and Stream Bluet (Enallagma exsulans).

The two species look somewhat similar, but similar is not the same, as illustrated by the following composite image: Stream Bluet damselfly (spotted on 24 June 2015); Familiar Bluet damselfly (spotted on 23 September 2015). How many differences can you see?

A Stream Bluet damselfly (Enallagma exsulans) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

Composite image: Stream Bluet (male) versus Familiar Bluet (male).

Both species tend to be habitat specialists rather than habitat generalists: Familiar Bluet is the only blue bluet you’re likely to see in the central wetland area at Huntley Meadows Park; Stream Bluet is more likely to be found along some of the streams that flow through the park, such as Barnyard Run.

And then there’s the matter of timing, as shown by the Dragonflies of Loudoun calendar of adult flight periods for damselflies: 23 September is still prime time for Familiar Bluets; prime time for Stream Bluets ends in August. So if you see a beautiful blue damselfly at Huntley Meadows during September/October, then it’s almost certainly a male Familiar Bluet.

Now that you’re familiar with the who, what, where, and when of Familiar Bluets, why don’t you go find one before they’re gone? Look for them on aquatic vegetation close to the water.

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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4 Responses to “You look Familiar.”

  1. Mike Powell Says:

    You make it sound so simple, Walter. Great explanation (and photos). Now I just have to remember the info the next time I see a bluet.

  2. Charlie@Seattle Trekker Says:

    I look so much harder at the dragonfly’s now to see as much detail as possible, to identify each one. I’ve been reading your posts for quite some time; I can only hope you get as much out of writing the posts as I do reading them.

    • waltersanford Says:

      I do benefit from writing the blog posts, Charlie. I know more about dragonflies than damselflies; writing posts re: the latter has helped me get a better handle on “the little ones.” BTW, I’m glad you touched base today. I recently discovered several of your comments in a part of WordPress that I never check. I approved all the comments; hope to double-back and reply to some of them as soon as dragonfly season winds down.

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