Posts Tagged ‘adult female’

Are adult Autumn Meadowhawks arboreal?

October 25, 2019

Autumn Meadowhawk (Sympetrum vicinum) is classified as a fall species of odonate. In the mid-Atlantic United States, meadowhawks seem to disappear for several months after they emerge during early to mid-summer and reappear during fall. Where do they go? No one knows for sure. I speculate Autumn Meadowhawk is an arboreal species of dragonfly that returns to the ground/water when it’s time to mate.

Emergence

The first individual — photographed soon after emergence — is a/an teneral/immature male, as indicated by the tenuous appearance of his wings, coloration, and terminal appendages.

24 JUN 2016 | HMP | Autumn Meadowhawk (teneral/immature male)

The next individual is a/an teneral/immature female, as indicated by the tenuous appearance of her wings, coloration, and terminal appendages.

24 JUN 2016 | HMP | Autumn Meadowhawk (teneral/immature female)

Time to mate

Fall is the time to mate for mature adult Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (S. vicinum), as you can see in the following photo.

15 NOV 2013 | HMP | Autumn Meadowhawk (mating pair, “in wheel”)

This mating pair is “in wheel”: the male is on the upper-left; the female is on the lower-right. All dragonflies and damselflies have a 10-segmented abdomen, numbered from front to back: male dragonfly secondary genitalia, called hamules, are located in segments two and three (S2 and S3); female genitalia in segment eight (S8). Dragonflies form the mating wheel in order for their genitalia to connect during copulation.

Forest Canopy Walk at Vermont Institute of Natural Science

Observing dragonflies at the Earth’s surface is fairly easy; observing dragonflies at the treetops, not so much. The new Forest Canopy Walk at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science (VINS) should facilitate the latter.

During 2020, I hope to collaborate with Kelly Stettner, Black River Action Team (BRAT), and Anna Morris, Lead Environmental Educator, VINS, to gather evidence that supports my speculation that adult meadowhawk dragonflies are arboreal. Field observations will be collected on the ground and along the Forest Canopy Walk.

Hosted by Anna Morris, Kelly Stettner and her family scouted the VINS site on 05 October 2019, including the new Forest Canopy Walk and nearby water bodies that provide suitable habitat for Autumn Meadowhawk. Special thanks to Anna for providing a behind the scenes tour a week before the official opening of the Forest Canopy Walk.

Gallery photos used with permission from Kelly Stettner, BRAT.

A week later, Autumn Meadowhawk was observed along the Forest Canopy Walk for the first time. The following photos provide circumstantial evidence that we might be on the right track. I love it when a plan comes together!

Gallery photos used with permission from Anna Morris, VINS.

I’m happy to share that during our public Forest Canopy Walk opening today [12 October 2019], I was stationed at the Eagle platform and got to see two (2) meadowhawks zooming around, then perched on the railing (pictures attached)! This is about 60 feet up, near a Sugar Maple and a Red Oak. [More meadowhawks were seen] the next day at nearly 90 feet up! At this height and as it was so sunny there were at least four individuals zooming around, landing on visitors, etc. Source Credit: Anna Morris, Lead Environmental Educator, VINS.

Related Resources

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Aurora Damsel (male, mating pair)

May 31, 2019

An Aurora Damsel (Chromagrion conditum) was spotted along the shoreline of a small pond located in Prince William County, Virginia USA. Aurora Damsel is a new species for my life list odonates.

This individual is a male, as indicated by his coloration and terminal appendages. Speaking of coloration, notice the underside of the male’s thorax is yellow — a key field mark for Aurora.

21 MAY 2019 | PNC. William County, VA | Aurora Damsel (male)

A mating pair of Aurora Damsel was spotted at the same location. This pair is “in tandem“: the male is on the upper-right; the female on the lower-left.

After copulation, Aurora Damsel engages in a form of guarding behavior known as “contact guarding,” in which the male and female fly “in tandem” to egg-laying sites. Contact guarding is used by most species of damselflies and some species of dragonflies to prevent aggressive males from hijacking the female.

21 MAY 2019 | PNC. William County, VA | Aurora Damsel (mating pair)

Female C. conditum is polymorphic, including two morphs: blue coloration similar to male; or with an entirely yellow thorax, as shown above.

It’s helpful to take photos of mating pairs of damselflies, especially “in tandem,” since males and females of the same species can look quite different. The preceding photo is slightly overexposed. As a result, the yellow coloration on both the male and female looks a little washed out.

Credits

Sincere thanks to Gary Myers for the tip that enabled Mike Powell and me to find this uncommon damselfly. See Aurora Damsels in action for Mike’s take on our first time seeing this species.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Robber Flies (mating pair)

September 2, 2018

A mating pair of Red-footed Cannibalflies (Promachus rufipes), a species of robber fly (Family Asilidae), was spotted during a photowalk along Deephole Point Road at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA.

There’s an obvious difference in the appearance of male and female Red-footed Cannibalflies: the male’s abdomen is “tiger-striped” for its entire length; the female’s abdomen is two-thirds tiger-striped, one-third black. Therefore, the male is shown on the upper-right in the following photo; the female on the lower-left.

23 AUG 2018 | OBNWR | Red-footed Cannibalflies (mating pair)

The next photo shows the male on the upper-left; the female on the lower-right.

23 AUG 2018 | OBNWR | Red-footed Cannibalflies (mating pair)

The last photo shows the female on the left; the male on the right.

23 AUG 2018 | OBNWR | Red-footed Cannibalflies (mating pair)

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Stream Bluet damselflies (mating pair, in tandem)

August 5, 2018

A mating pair of Stream Bluet damselflies (Enallagma exsulans) was spotted during a stream-walk along South Fork Quantico Creek in Prince William Forest Park (PWFP), Prince William County, Virginia USA. This pair is in tandem.

After copulation, Stream Bluet engages in a form of guarding behavior known as “contact guarding,” in which the male and female fly “in tandem” to egg-laying sites. Contact guarding is used by some species of odonates to prevent aggressive males from hijacking the female.

26 JUN 2018 | PWFP | Stream Bluet (mating pair, in tandem)

Female E. exsulans is polymorphic, including two morphs: green or blue thorax; abdomen similar to male for both morphs. The female shown in the preceding photo is a green morph.

Look closely at the posterior end of the female’s abdomen. All female damselflies (and some species of dragonflies) use an ovipositor to insert fertilized eggs into vegetation (endophytic oviposition). Notice the white spheroid at the tip of her ovipositor. That’s either a single egg or egg cluster/mass, probably the former.

Now look at the male. He appears to be “recharging” for mating again: Sperm is transferred from the genital opening under abdominal segment nine (S9) to the secondary genitalia located under abdominal segment two (S2). Remember all dragonflies and damselflies have a 10-segmented abdomen.

Editor’s Notes

Thanks to my good friend Mike Boatwright, administrator of the Virginia Odonata Facebook group, for verifying my tentative identification of the species of damselfly. Also thanks to Sue Gregoire, Kestrel Haven Migration Observatory, for sharing her expert opinion that my photo shows a single egg at the tip of the female’s ovipositor.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Mosquito Hawks

July 26, 2018

I’m honored to announce several of my dragonfly photographs are featured on new signage at Melvin L. Newman Wetlands Center, Clayton County, Georgia. The info-graphic, entitled “Mosquito Hawks,” was created by Danielle Bunch, Senior Conservationist for Clayton County Water Authority.

Image used with permission from Danielle Bunch.

As a retired K-12 science educator, I know from first-hand experience that informal learning opportunities can be as valuable as formal education in school classrooms. I was glad to contribute several of my photographs of Common Green Darner dragonflies (Anax junius) to the new info-graphic for the wetland area. It’s flattering to share the stage with Giff Beaton, author of Dragonflies and Damselflies of Georgia and the Southeast.

Full-size versions of my photographs (featured on the signage) appear in several previous posts on my photoblog.

Related Resources

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Ebony Jewelwing damselflies (mating pair)

June 26, 2018

A mating pair of Ebony Jewelwing damselflies (Calopteryx maculata) was spotted near a small forest stream at Occoquan Regional Park. The male is shown on the left; the female on the right.

The damselflies are “in wheel,” in which the male uses “claspers” (terminal appendages) at the end of his abdomen to hold the female by her neck/thorax while they are joined at their abdomens. The wheel position is sometimes referred to as “in heart” when damselflies mate.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Autumn Meadowhawks (mating pairs, in tandem)

November 8, 2017

Two mating pairs of Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) were photographed at Hidden Pond, Meadowood Recreation Area (MRA), Fairfax County, Virginia USA. Both pairs are “in tandem.”

The first pair is perching on the small wooden dock at Hidden Pond: the male is on the upper-right; the female is on the lower-left.

27 OCT 2017 | MRA | Autumn Meadowhawk (mating pair, “in tandem“)

The last pair is perching on an American sweetgum tree (Liquidambar styraciflua) growing alongside the dock. I love the way the fall coloration of the tree leaves complements the coloration of the dragonflies! The male is on the upper-left; the female is on the lower-right.

27 OCT 2017 | MRA | Autumn Meadowhawk (mating pair, “in tandem“)

Tech Tips

The photographs in this gallery were taken using my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 superzoom digital camera set for ~24x zoom (focal length of 600mm, 35mm equivalent), and Canon 580EX Speedlite external flash (manual mode).

In order to reduce “camera shake,” the camera was set for shutter priority mode. Using the reciprocal rule, the shutter speed was set for 1/800s. The ISO was set for “100.” An inexpensive Sunpak 6700M aluminum monopod was used for added stability.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (mating pairs)

November 4, 2017

This blog post features more photos taken using my Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera, Fujinon XF55-200mm zoom lens, and a Fujifilm MCEX-11 extension tube. The camera was set for manual focus in order to use focus peaking; back-button focusing was used to focus automatically.

In wheel

ISO 640 | 200mm (~300mm, 35mm equivalent) | f/11 | 1/500s | 0.33 ev

Two of many mating pairs of Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) were photographed on 27 October 2017 at Hidden Pond, Meadowood Recreation Area, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. Both pairs are “in wheel“: the male is on top; the female is on the bottom.

ISO 800 | 200mm (~300mm, 35mm equivalent) | f/18 | 1/500s | 0 ev

In tandem

The last mating pair is “in tandem“: the male is on the upper-right; the female is on the lower-left.

ISO 800 | 200mm (~300mm, 35mm equivalent) | f/16 | 1/500s | 0 ev

After copulation, Autumn Meadowhawks engage in a form of guarding behavior known as “contact guarding,” in which the male and female fly “in tandem” to egg-laying sites. Contact guarding is used by some species of odonates to prevent aggressive males from hijacking the female.

Related Resource: Adding an 11mm extension tube, a blog post by Walter Sanford.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Quick and dirty macro photos (Part 2)

October 29, 2017

A mating pair of Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) was spotted on 25 October 2017 during a photowalk along the boardwalk in the central wetland area at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is “in wheel.” The female is the primary subject; the tip of the male’s red abdomen is the secondary subject.

The first photo is my favorite in the set.

ISO 100 | 56mm (~300mm, 35mm equivalent) | f/4.1 | 1/800s | -1 ev

All odonates (dragonflies and damselflies) have a 10-segmented abdomen, numbered from front to back. Notice the small black “rivets” around the joint between segments seven and eight (S7, S8) of the male’s abdomen. Does anyone know the function of these structures?

ISO 100 | 56mm (~300mm, 35mm equivalent) | f/4.1 | 1/800s | -1 ev

Each compound eye has approximately 30,000 ommatidia!

ISO 100 | 56mm (~300mm, 35mm equivalent) | f/4.1 | 1/800s | -1 ev

Tech Tips

The photographs in this gallery were taken using my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 superzoom digital camera set for ~12x zoom, Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter, and Canon 580EX Speedlite external flash (manual mode). The close-up filter screws onto the front of the camera lens using a 52-43mm step-down ring.

I estimate the “working distance” between the camera and subject was approximately three-to-six inches (~3-6″). I attempted to photograph several mating pairs of Autumn Meadowhawks; this is the only pair that allowed me to get close enough to shoot some macro photos.

Related Resource: Quick and dirty macro photos (Part 1), a blog post by Walter Sanford featuring photos of male Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Big Bluet damselfly (mating pairs)

September 3, 2017

Hundreds, if not thousands, of Big Bluet damselflies (Enallagma durum) were spotted on 30 August 2017 during a photowalk along Deephole Point Road at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA.

A mating pair of Big Bluet was spotted “in heart.” The male is on the upper-right; the female on the lower-left.

30 AUG 2017 | OBNWR | Big Bluet (mating pair, “in heart“)

Big Bluet females are polymorphic, including a blue morph and brown morph. The female in this mating pair is a blue andromorph.

30 AUG 2017 | OBNWR | Big Bluet (mating pair, “in heart“)

I photographed the following male because he was perching at the right height for me to take the shot while standing. I took one photo before he flew to another perch, closer to the ground.

30 AUG 2017 | OBNWR | Big Bluet (male)

As it turns out, the single male led me to another mating pair of Big Bluet that I hadn’t noticed!

30 AUG 2017 | OBNWR | Big Bluet (mating pair, “in heart“)

The female in the preceding mating pair is a brown heteromorph. Color is a highly variable field marker, and describing color is subjective. In my experience, the heteromorph female Big Bluets native to Northern Virginia are light tan to light olive drab in color.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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