Archive for the ‘Apple iPhone’ Category

Macromia illinoiensis exuvia

March 15, 2017

Post update: Macromiidae exuvia

When this blog post was published on 19 April 2016, I was a novice at identifying odonate exuviae and I was just starting to get serious about studio macro photography. At the time, I was satisfied to be able to identify the dragonfly exuvia as a member of the Family Macromiidae (Cruisers).

What’s new?

I’ve learned a lot since then, including the identity of the specimen to the genus/species level. This is a Swift River Cruiser dragonfly (Macromia illinoiensis) exuvia that was collected along the Potomac River in Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

The first annotated image shows several characters that were used to identify the exuvia to the family level, including a mask-like labium featuring spork-like crenulations and a horn between its pointy eyes.

Swift River Cruiser (Macromia illinoiensis) exuvia (face-head)

(See a full-size version of the original photo, without annotation.)

The following dorsal view of the exuvia provides enough clues to identify the specimen to the genus/species level.

Swift River Cruiser (Macromia illinoiensis) exuvia (dorsal)

The lateral spines of abdominal segment nine (S9) do not reach the tips of the inferior appendages (paraprocts), and if you look closely at the full-size version of the preceding photo then you should see a small mid-dorsal hook on abdominal segment 10 (S10). These characters indicate the genus is Macromia.

Notice the lateral spines of abdominal segments eight and nine (S8-9) are “directed straight to rearward,” indicating the species is illinoiensis.

Where it all began.

The last photo shows a teneral male Swift River Cruiser dragonfly clinging to the exuvia from which it emerged — the same exuvia featured in this post! Matt Ryan collected the exuvia after the adult dragonfly flew away from its perch. When Matt gave the exuvia to me several years later, he was unable to remember where it was collected. As soon as I was able to identify the exuvia to the genus/species level, I remembered seeing the following photo posted in one of Matt’s spottings on Project Noah.

Photo used with permission from Matthew J. Ryan.

With a little detective work, I was able to solve the mystery of the specific identity of the exuvia as well as when and where it was collected. Like I said, I’ve learned a lot since I published the first blog post related to this specimen!

Related Resources:

Editor’s Notes: A funny thing happened on the way to the forum. I rediscovered the “Key to the Genera of the Family Macromiidae” (p. 27, shown above) while paging through the document Identification Keys to Northeastern Anisoptera Larvae in search of the “Key to the Genera of the Family Corduliidae” (page 28). One look at the line drawing at the bottom of p. 27 and I knew the specific identity of the cruiser exuvia.

I need to refresh this blog post with more annotated images of the Macromia illinoiensis exuvia, including one that clearly shows the mid-dorsal hook on S10, but I was so eager to update the old post that I couldn’t wait to shoot and post-process the new images.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Monarch butterfly chrysalises

February 7, 2017

Let’s continue the Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) theme by flashing back to a time several years ago when my best camera for photowalking was either an Apple iPhone or whatever camera gear I could borrow.

Patuxent Research Refuge

A Monarch butterfly chrysalis was spotted on 02 September 2012 at the Patuxent Research Refuge, Laurel, Maryland USA. The chrysalis was attached to a telephone callbox outside the Visitor Contact Station, North Tract. The chrysalis was located near a bed of milkweed plants. I observed Monarch butterfly caterpillars (larvae) feeding on the same milkweed on 26 August 2012.

The next image is a closer crop of the preceding photo, taken using a loaner Canon EOS Rebel XTi DSLR camera.

Hollin Meadows Elementary School

A Monarch butterfly chrysalis casing was spotted during a photowalk on 09 October 2010 at the Children’s Garden at Hollin Meadows Science and Math Focus School, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. The chrysalis was attached to the outside of a classroom window near a planting of Scarlet milkweed (Asclepias curassavica).

I observed Monarch butterfly caterpillars (larvae) feeding on the Scarlet milkweed plants during late August through early September 2010. Sometime later, during the pupal stage of its life, one of the caterpillars created a chrysalis on a classroom window in order to transform from larva to adult. I discovered the empty casing after the adult Monarch butterfly had emerged from its chrysalis.

(See a full-size version of the original photo, without annotation.)

The photo was taken using an Apple iPhone 3GS and annotated using Adobe Photoshop.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Answer key, Raiders of the Lost Park

March 16, 2016

In Raiders of the Lost Park, a.k.a., “The Wall” — the last post in my photoblog — readers were challenged to guess the location in Huntley Meadows Park where the following photograph was taken.

Building ruins as viewed from an unknown location at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

11 March 2016 | Huntley Meadows Park | Building ruins

After shooting the preceding photograph, I used the Apple “Compass” app (free) for iPhone to determine my exact location. Tech Tip: Capture an image of the iPhone screen by pressing the “Home” and “Power” buttons simultaneously.

Next, open Google Maps in a Web browser; click on the button labeled “Earth” (lower-left corner of window). Enter the following text string (refer to the “Compass” app screen capture, shown above) in the field labeled “Search Google Maps”: 38 46 3 N 77 7 1 W. Press the “return” key; the following satellite image/map should appear.

Pretty cool, huh? Well, now you know my exact location when I photographed the “The Wall.” Notice the “Compass” app also shows I was facing south-southwest when the photo was taken. In other words, I was standing where the red pin appears on the map, facing toward the bottom, a little left of center (relative to the map).

Hiking Directions: From the parking lot at the head-end of the Hike-Bike Trail, walk uphill along S. Kings Hwy. Stop at at the BEGINNING of the guard rail. Look to the right (about 1:30 to 2 o’clock) and you can see the building ruins. Walk a straight line path between the beginning of the guard rail and the ruins; there are fewer thorny vines along this route than I encountered/suffered by following the directions given to me!

Tech Tip: Some of my fellow WordPress bloggers may be wondering, “How did you embed an interactive Google Map in this post?” WordPress “Support” is your friend: Support / Google Maps / Embedding a Google Map.

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Answer key, Where’s Waldo?

January 24, 2016

In Where’s Waldo? — the last post in my photoblog — readers were challenged to guess the location in Huntley Meadows Park where the following photograph was taken.

The "Mystery Pool" spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

14 JAN 2016 | Huntley Meadows Park | “Mystery Pool”

After shooting the preceding photograph, I used the Apple “Compass” app (free) for iPhone to determine my exact location. Tech Tip: Capture an image of the iPhone screen by pressing the “Home” and “Power” buttons simultaneously.

Next, open Google Maps in a Web browser; click on the button labeled “Earth” (lower-left corner of window). Enter the following text string (refer to the “Compass” app screen capture, shown above) in the field labeled “Search Google Maps”: 38 45 8 N 77 6 44 W. Press the “return” key; the following satellite image/map should appear.

Pretty cool, huh? Well, now you know my exact location when I photographed the “Mystery Pool.” Notice the “Compass” app also shows I was facing south-southwest when the photo was taken. In other words, I was standing where the red pin appears on the map, facing toward the bottom, a little left of center (relative to the map).

Tech Tip: Some of my fellow WordPress bloggers may be wondering, “How did you embed an interactive Google Map in this post?” WordPress “Support” is your friend: Support / Google Maps / Embedding a Google Map.

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

What happens after, well, you know?

September 9, 2014

Guarding Behavior in Some Odonates

What happens after odonates copulate? There are three possible outcomes:

  • Nothing, that is, the male and female copulate, separate, and go their own way before the female lays eggs (oviposition) by herself.
  • “Contact guarding,” in which the male and female fly “in tandem” to egg-laying sites.
  • Non-contact guarding,” also known as “hover guarding,” in which the male flies frantically back-and-forth over the female as she lays eggs in an effort to guard the female from other opportunistic males looking for a mate.

Field Observations

The following photos and videos show a few examples of contact guarding and non-contact guarding, recorded during several years of photowalks at Huntley Meadows Park.

The first photo shows a mating pair of Orange Bluet damselflies (Enallagma signatum) spotted on 24 August 2014. The pair is “in tandem”: the male is on the upper-left; the female on the lower-right. Notice the female is partially submerged as she inserts eggs into aquatic vegetation (endophytic ovipostion). Orange Bluet is a member of the “Pond Damsels” family of damselflies.

Orange Bluet damselflies (mating pair, in tandem)

The next photo shows a mating pair of Common Green Darner dragonflies (Anax junius) spotted on 26 August 2014. The pair is “in tandem”: the male is on the upper-right; the female on the lower-left. The female is laying eggs on the surface of underwater plants (epiphytic ovipostion). The Common Green Darner dragonfly is the only North American darner that usually oviposits in tandem.

Common Green Darner dragonflies (mating pair, in tandem)

The last photo shows a mating pair of Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) spotted on 06 November 2013. The pair is shown “in tandem,” resting between periods of egg-laying: the male is on top; the female is on the bottom. Autumn Meadowhawk is a member of the Skimmer Family of dragonflies.

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (mating pair, in tandem)

The first two movies feature mating pairs of Great Blue Skimmer dragonflies (Libellula vibrans); in both videos, the male is shown hover guarding the female as she lays eggs. The first video was recorded on 06 June 2012; the second video was recorded on 24 July 2011.

The last movie features a mating pair of Common Whitetail dragonflies (Plathemis lydia) spotted on 24 July 2011; the male is shown hover guarding the female. Common Whitetail is a member of the Skimmer Family of dragonflies.

Summary

There are three common families of damselflies in the mid-Atlantic United States: Pond Damsels, also known as the “Narrow-winged Damselflies” (Family Coenagrionidae); Broad-winged Damselflies (Family Calopterygidae); and Spreadwings (Family Lestidae).

And there are seven families of dragonflies: Clubtails (Family Gomphidae); Cruisers (Family Macromiidae); Darners (Family Aeshnidae); Emeralds (Family Corduliidae); Petaltails (Family Petaluridae); Skimmers (Family Libellulidae); and Spiketails (Family Cordulegastridae).

I consulted the members of two odonate-related Facebook groups in preparation for writing this post: Northeastern Odonata; and Southeastern Odes. I posed a couple of questions related to odonate reproduction, with the goal of answering one over-arching question: Which families of damselflies and dragonflies engage in some form of post-copulatory guarding?

  1. Is there a common species of dragonfly in which the male abandons the female immediately after mating? No contact guarding, no non-contact guarding, just “Adios muchacha!”
  2. Do all damselfly females lay eggs in tandem with males? If not, then please cite at least one example.

My sincere thanks to two renowned odonate experts who kindly replied to my questions!

Not sure about the first question. I’ve seen plenty of females of many different species arriving alone at a water body to lay eggs but without seeing a mating pair break tandem, it’s hard to say when they separated. Females can store sperm so will often lay eggs without the company of a mate. As for damselflies, off the top of my head, Eastern- and Fragile Forktails typically oviposit alone. Slender Spreadwings too. Source Credit: Ed Lam, author and illustrator of Damselflies of the Northeast.

Skimmers are the only dragonflies in which guarding is common. It doesn’t happen in clubtailscruisers, darners (except of course in a few kinds of green darners that oviposit in tandem), emeralds, petaltails, and spiketails. Among skimmers, stream breeders such as clubskimmers and sylphs don’t have any kind of guarding. In genera such as Pantala gliders and Tramea saddlebags, if they’re not in tandem then the female oviposits by herself. Forktails are among the few pond damsels that don’t oviposit in tandem (a couple of western species are an exception to the exception). Source Credit: Dennis Paulson, author of Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East.

Coming full circle to the title of this post, most dragonfly males do not engage in post-copulatory guarding; most damselfly males do.

Related Resources

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Periodical Cicadas Brood II

June 5, 2013

The following gallery features Periodical Cicadas (Magicicada sp.) and exuviae spotted at several locations in Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge, Army Garrison Fort Belvoir, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This was the first time in 2013 I saw 17-year cicadas from “Brood II” at the park.

I recorded three audio clips (~10 s each) of Periodical Cicadas Brood II on 29 May 2013 at Meadowood Recreation Area, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. Meadowood is located on the opposite side of Pohick Bay from Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge. The sound of a brood of cicadas is astounding and loud — it sounds like a flying saucer hovering overhead!

Audio Clip No. 1

Audio Clip No. 2

Audio Clip No. 3

Tech Tips: I used the free “Voice Memos” app on my Apple iPhone to record the cicadas. I used “Audacity,” a free audio processor, to edit the files: I amplified the entire selection for each clip; and added metadata. Finally, I uploaded the audio clips to “Audioboo,” a free Website for audioblogging. Try it, it’s easy!

Copyright © 2013 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Osprey calling its mate

March 7, 2013

The following slideshow features a female Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) calling its mate. The nesting pair of Osprey was spotted near Riverside Park in Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

Females usually show dark necklace across white breast. Source Credit: Osprey, “All About Birds,” Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Related Resource:Osprey calling its mate (amplified)” – an audio recording of the same bird shown in the preceding photos.

This post includes a link to an audio recording of bird calls by the same Osprey shown in the photos! You may be wondering, “How did you do that?” I used the free “Voice Memos” app on my Apple iPhone to record the bird call in situ. Next I used “Audacity,” a free audio editor, to amplify the recording on my Apple iMac. Finally, I uploaded the amplified version to “Audioboo.” Audioboo is a free tool for audioblogging. (Did I just coin a new term?) Try it yourself — it’s easy!

Editor’s Note: Audioboo provides three options that may be used to embed a player in blog posts: Standard (HTML5); WordPress.com (Flash); and “If all else fails.” For this blog, the Flash version (shown below) is the only option that displays properly on an Apple iMac computer; none of the options displays properly on an Apple iOS mobile device such as iPad.

WordPress.com

Copyright © 2013 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Dragonhunter dragonfly (male)

September 5, 2012

A Dragonhunter dragonfly (Hagenius brevistylus) spotted during an Audubon Naturalist Society field trip to the Little Patuxent River, a forested stream that flows through the North Tract of the Patuxent Research Refuge, Laurel, Maryland USA. This individual is a male, as indicated by the secondary genitalia located on the underside of abdominal segments 2-3 (see Photos 1-2).

Remember that all dragonflies and damselflies have a 10-segmented abdomen, numbered from front to back.

Dragonhunter_3-ver3_apertureDragonhunter_3-ver2_apertureDragonhunter_1-ver2_apertureDragonhunter_2a-ver3_aperture3Dragonhunter_2a-ver2_aperture

According to Wikipedia, Dragonhunters are …

much larger than any other North American clubtail, at 3.3 inches (84 mm), with black and yellow markings and green eyes. … The adult feeds on large insects, including darner and clubtail dragonflies, sometimes ambushing them from above. It also takes Monarch butterflies, eating the thorax and abdomen first to avoid the greatest concentration of cardenolide toxins.

Copyright © 2012 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved. www.wsanford.com

Geocaching — it’s all about the SWAG!

January 6, 2012

Geocaching is the high-tech sport where you are the search engine! A handheld GPS receiver and a hunger for adventure are all you need to play this 21st century version of hide-and-seek. I have been a “Basic Member” since 09 August 2003. Initially, I was interested in one type of cache known as a “Locationless (Reverse) Cache”; locationless caches morphed into what is now known as “Waymarks.” Waymarking is “a scavenger hunt for unique and interesting locations” around the world; I follow the RSS feed for the Sundials category. My geocaching username is “Geodialist,” a hybrid name that reflects my combined interests in geocaching and sundialing.

The first geocache I found is a traditional cache named “White Oaks Hollow,” hidden in White Oaks Park (see Photos 2-3, below). The first time I visited the site, I was within four feet of the cache location but could not find the cache container! I revisited the site a few days later and found the geocache right away. I signed the logbook, exchanged trade items (a.k.a., SWAG), and left the cache as I found it. Later, I used the geocaching.com Website to log my find.

Img_5048-ver2_apertureImg_0713Img_0705

For me, geocaching is all about the SWAG. SWAG? “SWAG” is an acronym with many meanings, such as “Souvenirs, Wearables And Gifts,” “Stuff We All Get,” and “Sealed With A Gift.” Photo 1 of 3 in the preceding gallery shows several trade items I took from three geocaches I visited during the past year-or-so. “Senor Frog,” as I refer to him affectionately, is my favorite geocaching SWAG item. Be sure to give as good as you get when find a geocache!

Tech Tips: I used “Geocaching Intro,” a free app for Apple iPhone, to navigate to the geocache location. The app is location-aware: It suggested several nearby geocaches I could try to find; I chose “White Oaks Hollow.” Geocaching Intro provides a quick introduction that answers the fundamental question, “What is geocaching?” The app works well, although it would be nice if its skeleton feature set were fleshed out with more of the bells and whistles that come with the commercial version that retails for $9.99 (a relatively high price point for an app).

Photos © Copyright 2012 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved. www.wsanford.com

Emerald dragonfly (female, oviposition)

January 2, 2012

The following “raw” video clip (unedited) shows a female Mocha Emerald dragonfly (Somatochlora linearis), laying eggs by the process of oviposition. The process typically lasts a few seconds to a few minutes.

This individual was spotted during a photowalk through the “Wildlife Sanctuary,” one of seven small parks in the community of Hollin Hills, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

Video Copyright © 2012 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved. www.wsanford.com


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