Changing of the guard

Several Prince Baskettail dragonflies (Epitheca princeps) were spotted on 14 June 2016 at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge (JMAWR).

Mulligan Pond is relatively small. The shoreline seemed to be subdivided into imaginary segments of valuable real estate; each segment was patrolled by a single male Prince Baskettail dragonfly. There were frequent aerial skirmishes when one male strayed into the territory of another. During nearly three hours of observation, I never saw one of the males land!

A Prince Baskettail dragonfly (Epitheca princeps) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male, shown in flight.

14 JUN 2016 | JMAWR | Prince Baskettail (male, in flight)

This individual is a male, as indicated by his terminal appendages (see annotated image, shown below). Notice the male’s bright blue-green eyes. It’s easy to see why Prince Baskettail is a member of the Emerald Family of dragonflies!

The shoreline of Mulligan Pond was patrolled by Common Baskettail dragonflies (Epitheca cynosura) during May 2016. A changing of the guard occurred sometime since my last visit: same family; same genus; different species.

Prince Baskettail dragonfly terminal appendages (male)

All male dragonflies have three terminal appendages, collectively called “claspers,” that are used to grab and hold female dragonflies during mating: an upper pair of cerci (“superior appendages”) and a lower unpaired epiproct (“inferior appendage”).

A Prince Baskettail dragonfly (Epitheca princeps) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male, shown in flight.

14 JUN 2016 | JMAWR | Prince Baskettail (male, in flight)

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

  • Genus Epitheca | Epitheca princeps | Prince Baskettail | male | top view
  • Genus Epitheca | Epitheca princeps | Prince Baskettail | male | side view
  • Genus Epitheca | Epitheca princeps | Prince Baskettail | female | top view
  • Genus Epitheca | Epitheca princeps | Prince Baskettail | female | side view

See also Uncommonly cooperative Common Baskettail, a blog post by Walter Sanford.

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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4 Responses to “Changing of the guard”

  1. Mike Powell Says:

    Nice in-flight shot, Walter. I commend both your patience and the stamina of the dragonflies–it’s tough to wait and hope that a flying dragonfly will eventually take a break.

    • waltersanford Says:

      Thanks, Mike! As you know from shared experience, Prince Baskettail is a challenging species of dragonfly to photograph in flight. I shot one “hit” and many misses.

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

    […] Changing of the guard, published on 16 June 2016. […]

  3. Epitheca princeps exuvia | walter sanford's photoblog Says:

    […] Although I have never seen a perching adult Prince Baskettail dragonfly, I was fortunate to shoot the following photo of a male in flight, featured in the blog post Changing of the guard. […]

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