Common Sanddragon dragonfly (emergent male)

I was in the right place at the right time as I was photowalking Dogue Creek at Wickford Park on 01 June 2016: I noticed a dragonfly nymph as it crawled out of the water; the nymph stopped a few inches from the waterline and began to emerge right away. I photographed the entire process from beginning to end: I shot 77 photos in approximately 45 minutes; time is compressed by showcasing 14 select photos taken at major milestones during the event.

The following photo is the first image from a time-series documenting the miraculous metamorphosis of an emergent male Common Sanddragon dragonfly (Progomphis obscuris). Elapsed time is expressed in hh:mm:ss format, e.g., 00:44:21 (the total elapsed time).

A Common Sanddragon nymph/dragonfly (Progomphus obscurus) spotted along Dogue Creek at Wickford Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is an emergent male.

01 JUN 2016 | 10:07:51 am EDT | Elapsed time: 00:00:00

The pre-emergent dragonfly nymph appears in the lower-left corner of the preceding photo; the cast skin from another dragonfly appears in the upper-right corner. Truth be told, I was so focused on observing the dragonfly nymph that I never noticed the cast skin until after I finished the photoshoot!

A Common Sanddragon nymph/dragonfly (Progomphus obscurus) spotted along Dogue Creek at Wickford Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is an emergent male.

01 JUN 2016 | 10:09:33 am EDT | Elapsed time: 00:01:42

The dragonfly began to emerge through a split in the thorax, as shown in the next three photos.

A Common Sanddragon nymph/dragonfly (Progomphus obscurus) spotted along Dogue Creek at Wickford Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is an emergent male.

01 JUN 2016 | 10:15:07 am EDT | Elapsed time: 00:07:16

A Common Sanddragon nymph/dragonfly (Progomphus obscurus) spotted along Dogue Creek at Wickford Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is an emergent male.

01 JUN 2016 | 10:15:36 am EDT | Elapsed time: 00:07:45

A Common Sanddragon nymph/dragonfly (Progomphus obscurus) spotted along Dogue Creek at Wickford Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is an emergent male.

01 JUN 2016 | 10:16:16 am EDT | Elapsed time: 00:08:25

Within minutes, the emergent dragonfly was entirely free from its exoskeleton. This individual is a male, as indicated by his terminal appendages.

A Common Sanddragon nymph/dragonfly (Progomphus obscurus) spotted along Dogue Creek at Wickford Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is an emergent male.

01 JUN 2016 | 10:21:01 am EDT | Elapsed time: 00:13:10

The wings, folded like accordions, then begin to fill from the base with fluid transferred from the body and fairly soon reach full length. Source Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Locations 466-467). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

A Common Sanddragon nymph/dragonfly (Progomphus obscurus) spotted along Dogue Creek at Wickford Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is an emergent male.

01 JUN 2016 | 10:22:03 am EDT | Elapsed time: 00:14:12

A Common Sanddragon nymph/dragonfly (Progomphus obscurus) spotted along Dogue Creek at Wickford Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is an emergent male.

01 JUN 2016 | 10:23:06 am EDT | Elapsed time: 00:15:15

A Common Sanddragon nymph/dragonfly (Progomphus obscurus) spotted along Dogue Creek at Wickford Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is an emergent male.

01 JUN 2016 | 10:25:22 am EDT | Elapsed time: 00:17:31

Soon, the folded wings were as long as the abdomen…but that didn’t last long.

A Common Sanddragon nymph/dragonfly (Progomphus obscurus) spotted along Dogue Creek at Wickford Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is an emergent male.

01 JUN 2016 | 10:31:02 am EDT | Elapsed time: 00:23:11

The fluid is then pumped back into the abdomen, and it expands. Source Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Locations 467-468). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

Notice the wings are nearly clear in following photo, indicating the greenish-colored fluid that formerly filled the wings is almost gone. The abdomen is noticeably longer than the wings in this photo.

A Common Sanddragon nymph/dragonfly (Progomphus obscurus) spotted along Dogue Creek at Wickford Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is an emergent male.

01 JUN 2016 | 10:34:48 am EDT | Elapsed time: 00:26:57

Finally, the wings open up, and very soon the teneral adult flies away. Source Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Locations 468). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

A Common Sanddragon nymph/dragonfly (Progomphus obscurus) spotted along Dogue Creek at Wickford Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is an emergent male.

01 JUN 2016 | 10:36:42 am EDT | Elapsed time: 00:28:51

The next-to-last photo shows the teneral dragonfly after waiting approximately 15 minutes for its wings to harden, just before first flight…

A Common Sanddragon nymph/dragonfly (Progomphus obscurus) spotted along Dogue Creek at Wickford Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is an emergent male.

01 JUN 2016 | 10:51:32 am EDT | Elapsed time: 00:43:41

The last photo shows the cast skin from the emergent dragonfly, technically known as an exuvia (singular). The white filaments that extend from the split in the thorax are breathing tubes, artifacts of the unique respiratory system of dragonfly nymphs.

A Common Sanddragon nymph/dragonfly (Progomphus obscurus) spotted along Dogue Creek at Wickford Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is an emergent male.

01 JUN 2016 | 10:52:12 am EDT | Elapsed time: 00:44:21

Related Resources:

  • Metamorphosis of a dragonfly – a blog post by Mike Powell documenting an emergent Common Sanddragon dragonfly observed on 03 June 2016 at Huntley Meadows Park
  • Emerging Common Sanddragons – a blog post by Walter Sanford featuring two emergent Common Sanddragon dragonflies observed at Patuxent Research Refuge
  • Miraculous metamorphis – a blog post by Walter Sanford documenting an emergent female Common Whitetail dragonfly at Huntley Meadows Park

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

9 Responses to “Common Sanddragon dragonfly (emergent male)”

  1. Victor Rakmil Says:

    An amazing series. I am sure documenting this is rare. Well done.

  2. Mike Powell Says:

    Great post, Walter, and super photos. I really enjoyed your explanation (and Paulson’s) about the physiological changes that were taking place within the dragonfly as it went through the different stages of its metamorphosis.

  3. When things go wrong | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] Resource: Common Sanddragon dragonfly (emergent male), a blog post by Walter Sanford featuring a time-series of photographs documenting the metamorphosis […]

  4. Life-list additions in 2016 | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] Common Sanddragon dragonfly (emergent male), published on 08 June 2016. […]

  5. Slaty Skimmer dragonflies (mating pair) | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] life cycle can last from a few months to a few years, depending upon the species. Finally, they emerge from the water and metamorphose into adults in order to reproduce; their offspring return to the water and the cycle begins […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: