Archive for the ‘damselflies’ Category

American Rubyspot damselfly (male)

June 24, 2020

During a photowalk with Michael Powell in Fairfax County, Virginia USA, Mike spotted an American Rubyspot damselfly (Hetaerina americana) perched facing the Potomac River. This individual is a male, as indicated by his red coloration, hamules, and terminal appendages.

All of the photos in the following gallery look similar, although there are subtle differences.

The first photo is the “record shot” for this individual, that is, “get a shot, any shot.” Actually, this one turned out to be a good photo! The camera was set for an aperture of f/5.6 for all shots in the gallery. This viewing angle provided the clearest look at his terminal appendages given the relatively shallow depth-of-field.

08 JUN 2020 | Fairfax County, VA | American Rubyspot (male)

The next photo shows a better look at the damselfly’s metallic ruby red face. Handsome!

08 JUN 2020 | Fairfax County, VA | American Rubyspot (male)

Finally, I just like the look of the “light” in the last photo. Dark and moody.

08 JUN 2020 | Fairfax County, VA | American Rubyspot (male)

Related Resource: American Rubyspot – a blog post by Michael Powell

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Ebony Jewelwing damselfly (female)

June 10, 2020

Two members of Family Calopterygidae (Broad-winged Damselflies) can be found in Fairfax County, Virginia USA: American Rubyspot (Hetaerina americana); and Ebony Jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata). Ebony Jewelwing seems to be more common than American Rubyspot in Fairfax County.

08 JUN 2020 | Fairfax County, VA | Ebony Jewelwing (female)

The preceding photo of an Ebony Jewelwing is one of my “warm-up shots” from a recent photowalk with Michael Powell at a location in Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

This individual is a female. A simple field mark may be used to differentiate female and male Ebony Jewelwing: females feature white pterostigmata; males don’t.

Related Resources

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

MYN – Zygoptera exuvia (ventral-lateral view)

March 27, 2020

A Zygoptera exuvia (species unknown) was collected on 21 May 2019 alongside a small pond at an undisclosed location in Prince William County, Virginia USA.

This individual is a member of Family Lestidae (Spreadwings), as indicated by the unique shape of its prementum — it reminds me of a rattle (musical instrument).

The rudimentary ovipositor that is faintly visible on the ventral side of abdominal segment nine (S9) indicates this specimen is a female.

21 MAY 2019 | Zygoptera exuvia (ventrallateral view) | female

My what long antennae you have, Grandma! The better to sense you, my dear.

Related Resources

Tech Tips

This subject was photographed against a pure white background (255, 255, 255) using the “Meet Your Neighbours” (MYN) technique.

Three photos were used to create a composite image: one photo focused on the head; another focused on the wing pads; and a third focused on abdominal segment six (S6).

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Sexing odonate exuviae (Zygoptera)

February 12, 2020

For some (but not all) species of odonate larvae/exuviae, sex is indicated by either a rudimentary ovipositor (female) or vestigial genitalia (male). These sex organs don’t look exactly the same for all species of damselflies, but their function is identical.

The following photo gallery shows relatively clear examples that illustrate how to sex odonate exuvia in Suborder Zygoptera (Damselflies).

Female (rudimentary ovipositor)

Family Calopterygidae (Broad-winged Damselflies)

(none)

Family Coenagrionidae (Narrow-winged Damselflies)

11 MAR 2017 | Argia sp. | exuvia (female)

Family Lestidae (Spreadwings)

(none)

Male (vestigial genitalia)

Family Calopterygidae (Broad-winged Damselflies)

Family Coenagrionidae (Narrow-winged Damselflies)

(none)

Family Lestidae (Spreadwings)

(none)

Related Resources

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

New Life List additions in 2019

December 30, 2019

The anticipation of the hunt and the thrill of discovery — the adrenalin rush from finding the target species is ever more elusive as one gains experience and expertise. Accordingly, the number of additions to my Life List is fewer year after year.

List items are presented in chronological order, based upon the date of the spotting/studio photo shoot.

Eastern Least Clubtail dragonfly exuvia

25 photos were used to create this focus-stacked composite image of an Eastern Least Clubtail dragonfly (Stylogomphus albistylus) exuvia from an odonate nymph that Bob Perkins collected and reared. S. albistylus is a member of Family Gomphidae (Clubtails).

Uhler’s Sundragon dragonfly

A Uhler’s Sundragon (Helocordulia uhleri) was spotted during a photowalk along a mid-size stream at an undisclosed location in Northern Virginia USA.

16 APR 2019 | Northern Virginia | Uhler’s Sundragon (male)

Harlequin Darner dragonfly

A Harlequin Darner (Gomphaeschna furcillata) was spotted at the North Tract of Patuxent Research Refuge, Laurel, Maryland USA. This individual is a female.

Arrowhead Spiketail dragonfly (female)

An Arrowhead Spiketail dragonfly (Cordulegaster obliqua) was spotted in a sunny clearing along a small forest stream at an undisclosed location in Prince William County, Virginia USA. This is the first female Arrowhead Spiketail that I’ve seen.

21 MAY 2019 | PNC. William County, VA | Arrowhead Spiketail (female)

Black-shouldered Spinyleg dragonfly exuvia

A dragonfly exuvia was collected by Joe Johnston on 22 May 2019 at Aquia Creek, Stafford County, Virginia USA. This specimen is the cast skin from a Black-shouldered Spinyleg (Dromogomphus spinosus) larva. D. spinosus is a member of Family Gomphidae (Clubtails). Although I have seen many adult Black-shouldered Spinyleg, this is the first exuvia I’ve seen/photographed.

Aurora Damsel damselfly

A mating pair of Aurora Damsel (Chromagrion conditum) was spotted along along a trail in the forest at an undisclosed location in Prince William County, Virginia USA. This pair is “in wheel” (“in heart”).

04 JUN 2019 | PNC. William County, VA | Aurora Damsel (mating pair)

Eastern Copperhead snake

An Eastern Copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix) was observed during a photowalk with my good friend Mike Powell along a small forest stream at an undisclosed location in Prince William County, Virginia USA.

04 JUN 2019 | PNC. William County, VA | Eastern Copperhead

Blue-ringed Dancer damselfly

Blue-ringed Dancer damselfly (Argia sedula) was spotted during a photowalk with Michael Powell along Popes Head Creek at Hemlock Overlook Regional Park (HORP), Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

Spot-winged Glider dragonfly exuvia

A Spot-winged Glider dragonfly (Pantala hymenaea) exuvia was collected and identified by Andy Davidson near Richmond, Virginia USA. Spot-winged Glider is a member of Family Libellulidae (Skimmers). I’ve seen many adult Spot-winged Glider but this is the first exuvia I’ve seen/photographed.

18 DEC 2019 | Richmond, VA | Spot-winged Glider | exuvia (dorsal)

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

“Odonate Larvae and Exuviae” Facebook group

November 29, 2019

I created a new Facebook group called “Odonate Larvae and Exuviae.” Readers of this blog who enjoy my photographs of odonate exuviae might be interested in following the new group. Please join us!

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Blue-ringed Dancer damselfly (female)

September 11, 2019

Identification of tan damselflies, such as the one shown below, can be a source of great frustration. Many species of tan damselflies look virtually identical: sometimes they are immature females and males; sometimes they are adult females. Very confusing!

29 AUG 2019 | HORP | Blue-ringed Dancer (female)

This individual is a female Blue-ringed Dancer damselfly (Argia sedula), spotted during a photowalk with Michael Powell along Popes Head Creek at Hemlock Overlook Regional Park (HORP), Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

The Backstory

Mike Powell and I explored a segment of Popes Head Creek near the confluence with Bull Run. We saw only three types of damselflies along the rocky stream: Blue-fronted Dancer (Argia apicalis), Blue-ringed Dancer (Argia sedula); and Powdered Dancer (Argia moesta). This individual doesn’t look like either a female or male for any of those species. Stumped, I was. So I consulted Dr. Michael Moore for help in identifying this specimen.

This is a female Blue-ringed Dancer. They are quite variable, but usually have the last three abdominal segments pale like this [one]. Also, I think there is a very slight amber tint to the wings which is typical of female Blue-rings. Source Credit: Dr. Michael Moore, a professor (retired) in the Department of Biological Sciences at University of Delaware and odonate expert extraordinaire. Dr. Moore’s new Web site is a treasure trove of helpful resources.

Sincere thanks, Dr. Moore!

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

American Rubyspot damselfly (female)

September 4, 2019

An American Rubyspot damselfly (Hetaerina americana) was spotted during a photowalk with Michael Powell along Popes Head Creek at Hemlock Overlook Regional Park (HORP), Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

29 AUG 2019 | HORP | American Rubyspot (female)

This individual is a female, as indicated by her muted coloration (relative to males of the same species), thick abdomen, and terminal appendages.

29 AUG 2019 | HORP | American Rubyspot (female)

Mike and I saw the female as we worked our way upstream, and again on the way downstream. She was near the same location both times, perched facing the water.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Blue-ringed Dancer damselfly (male)

September 2, 2019

A Blue-ringed Dancer damselfly (Argia sedula) was spotted during a photowalk with Michael Powell along Popes Head Creek at Hemlock Overlook Regional Park (HORP), Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

29 AUG 2019 | HORP | Blue-ringed Dancer (male)

This individual is a male, as indicated by his blue coloration and terminal appendages. (Female Blue-ringed Dancer is mostly brown/tan in color.)

29 AUG 2019 | HORP | Blue-ringed Dancer (male)

Adult flight period

According to records for the Commonwealth of Virginia maintained by Dr. Steve Roble, Staff Zoologist at the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, the adult flight period for A. sedula is from May 17 to October 24. The species is classified as common. Its habitat is “streams” and “rivers.”

Bear in mind, Dr. Roble’s records are for the entire state, therefore the adult flight period for A. sedula seems to be longer than it is in reality. The adult flight period for a single site is probably shorter.

New species

Blue-ringed Dancer is a new species for my Life List of Damselflies (Order Zygoptera).

Credit

Thanks to Michael Boatwright, founder and administrator of the Virginia Odonata Facebook group, for help in identifying this specimen.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Denizen of the seep

July 8, 2019

An Ebony Jewelwing damselfly (Calopteryx maculata) was spotted near a forest seep located in Occoquan Regional Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male, as indicated by the absence of white pterostigma — a field mark used to identify females of the same species.

Look for Ebony Jewelwing beginning in late-May/early-June along almost any small- to mid-size forest stream in Northern Virginia (USA).

Ebony Jewelwing is a member of Family Calopterygidae (Broad-winged Damselflies). American Rubyspot (Hetaerina americana) is the only other species of Broad-winged Damselfly found in Northern Virginia.

Adult flight period

According to records for the Commonwealth of Virginia maintained by Dr. Steve Roble, Staff Zoologist at the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, the adult flight period for C. maculata is from April 27 to October 06. The species is classified as common. Its habitat is “streams, rivers.”

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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