Posts Tagged ‘Blue Dasher dragonfly’

Another mature female skimmer

August 30, 2017

As I mentioned in my last two blog posts (see Related Resources, below), most of the Skimmer dragonflies (Family Libellulidae) spotted during a recent photowalk at Huntley Meadows Park looked old and tattered.

24 AUG 2017 | HMP | Blue Dasher (mature female)

This individual is a mature female Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis), as indicated by her terminal appendages, discolored abdomen, and tattered wings.

Related Resources

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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Arachnids 2, Odonates 0

March 23, 2017

A spider was observed preying upon a teneral damselfly at a vernal pool in Huntley Meadows Park. The genus/species of the spider is uncertain; the damselfly appears to be a female Slender Spreadwing (Lestes rectangularis).

31 MAY 2016 | Huntley Meadows Park | spider preying upon damselfly

According to experts on the BugGuide Facebook group, the spider is probably an unknown species from the Family Araneidae (Orb Weavers).

Post Update: Ashley Bradford, a local arachnid expert and excellent all-around amateur naturalist, identified the spider as an Arabesque Orbweaver (Neoscona arabesca). Thanks, Ashley!

31 MAY 2016 | Huntley Meadows Park | spider preying upon damselfly

Aperture Priority mode was used for the next photo, in order to increase the depth of field. As you can see, the depth of field at f/8.0 was insufficient for both the damselfly and spider to be in focus.

31 MAY 2016 | Huntley Meadows Park | spider preying upon damselfly

A dragonfly was trapped in a spider web at Hidden Pond, Meadowood Recreation Area, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. The dragonfly, possibly an immature male Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis), is infested with parasitic red water mites.

22 JUN 2016 | Meadowood Recreation Area | dragonfly in spider web

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Teneral

February 11, 2017

Two species of teneral dragonflies were spotted on the same day at nearly the same location in Huntley Meadows Park.

teneral: adult after it has just emerged, soft and not definitively colored Source Credit: Glossary, Some Dragonfly Terms by Dennis R. Paulson.

Both species are members of the Family Libellulidae (Skimmers). Based upon my experience, early September seems late in the year for these two species to emerge!

Blue Dasher

A Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a teneral male.

02 SEP 2016 | Huntley Meadows Park | Blue Dasher (teneral male)

This individual is a teneral male Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis), as indicated by his terminal appendages, coloration, and the tenuous appearance of its wings. The coloration of immature male Blue Dashers resembles females of the same species.

A Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a teneral male.

02 SEP 2016 | Huntley Meadows Park | Blue Dasher (teneral male)

Eastern Pondhawk

An Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly (Erythemis simplicicollis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a teneral male.

02 SEP 2016 | Huntley Meadows Park | Eastern Pondhawk (teneral male)

An Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly (Erythemis simplicicollis) was spotted near the same location where the Blue Dasher dragonfly was observed. This individual is a teneral male, as indicated by his terminal appendages, coloration, and the tenuous appearance of its wings. The coloration of immature male Eastern Pondhawks resembles females of the same species.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Blue Dasher dragonfly (female)

December 21, 2015

I’ve said it before — when you’re making a list of the “Top 10 Most Beautiful Dragonflies of the Mid-Atlantic USA,” don’t sleep on the female Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis). I think it’s easy to overlook their beauty because Blue Dasher is a relatively common species of dragonfly — males seemingly more common than females — but I think the females are uncommonly attractive.

The individual shown in the preceding photo is a female, as indicated by her coloration and terminal appendages. Blue Dashers display sexual dimorphism; terminal appendages may be used to differentiate females from immature males.

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Rivals

December 13, 2015

A Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula incesta) was spotted at Huntley Meadows Park. This individual is a mature male, as indicated by its coloration and terminal apppendages. A male Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis) is shown in the background.

These two males were rivals, competing for one of two perches overlooking a wetland pool. I was amused by the smaller Blue Dasher’s aggressive behavior as he buzzed the larger Slaty Skimmer repeatedly, trying to recapture the prized perch he occupied before the Slaty showed up.

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Blue Dasher dragonfly (female, obelisking)

November 27, 2015

Seems like just yesterday Blue Dasher dragonflies (Pachydiplax longipennis) were everywhere. Now they’re nowhere to be found. (Heavy sigh.) It’s going to be a long winter!

This individual is a fresh-faced female, as indicated by her coloration and terminal appendages.

Some species of dragonflies, such as the Blue Dasher shown in this photo set, regulate their body temperature by perching in the “obelisk position”: the tip of the dragonfly’s abdomen is pointed toward the Sun, minimizing the surface area of the body exposed to direct heating by the Sun’s rays, thereby avoiding overheating.

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Dashing Blue Dasher

September 20, 2015

In a recent blog post, I wrote about seeing the beauty in a common dragonflyBlue Dasher dragonflies (Pachydiplax longipennis) are so ubiquitous in the wetlands of Huntley Meadows Park, it’s easy to get desensitized to their beauty.

A Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

10 JUL 2015 | Huntley Meadows Park | Blue Dasher (male)

This individual is a handsome male, as indicated by his coloration and terminal appendages. He posed for me when I stopped to rest during an “extreme photowalk” with Michael Powell. Actually, the male Blue Dasher was posing for females looking for a mating partner.

The coffee-colored water in the background — the result of recent heavy rainfall — enabled me to create a photo with a clean, uncluttered background that focuses the viewer’s attention on the subject, as it should be. The water color also complements the coloration of the dragonfly.

Related Resource: Odonart Portfolio.

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Parasitic water mites

July 8, 2015

Chiggers and ticks parasitize human odonate-hunters sometimes; water mites parasitize odonates sometimes. In my experience, some species of dragonflies seem to be more likely to be infested with water mites than others.

Lentic, slow moving water, ponds and temporary water are what mites need for their life cycle. The mites get onto late stage [odonate] nymphs, and then emerge with the nymph. As it ecloses the mites transfer to the adult damselfly, dragonfly. Life cycles of mite and host must be at stages where this can happen, so only certain species would probably be emerging at those times. Species that emerge earlier or later in the season probably wouldn’t have to deal with them. There’s more than one species of mite, so different species would emerge at different times. There is some reference in Corbet’s book [Corbet, Phillip S. (1962). A Biology of Dragonflies.] about some (grooming) species grooming themselves better, and knocking them off also, so they’ve evolved to attach to species where their life cycle can be completed. Some of these species disperse them well also. Nature is truly amazing! Source Credit: Stick LaPan, Northeast Odonata Facebook group.

Odonates and parasitic water mites are able to co-exist except in cases of extreme infestation, when parasitization can be fatal.

Halloween Pennant dragonfly (Celithemis eponina), spotted in a remote location at Huntley Meadows Park, has a mild infestation of black water mites. This individual is a female, as indicated by its coloration and terminal appendages.

A Halloween Pennant dragonfly (Celithemis eponina) spotted near Dogue Creek, Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female with a mild infestation of black water mites.

29 JUN 2015 | Huntley Meadows Park | Halloween Pennant (female)

The next photo shows the same female with another water mite attached to the underside of its abdomen.

A Halloween Pennant dragonfly (Celithemis eponina) spotted near Dogue Creek, Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female with a mild infestation of black water mites.

29 JUN 2015 | Huntley Meadows Park | Halloween Pennant (female)

Another Halloween Pennant dragonfly, spotted at the same remote location 12 days earlier, has an infestation of red water mites. This individual is an immature male, as indicated by its coloration (similar to a female) and terminal appendages.

A Halloween Pennant dragonfly (Celithemis eponina) spotted near Dogue Creek, Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is an immature male with a mild infestation of red water mites.

17 JUN 2015 | Huntley Meadows Park | Halloween Pennant (immature male)

Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis), spotted along the boardwalk in the central wetland area at Huntley Meadows Park, has an infestation of black water mites. This individual is a male, as indicated by its blue coloration and terminal appendages. He is perching in the obelisk position, thought to be a method of thermoregulation.

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Blue Dasher dragonflies (immature males)

May 25, 2015

Blue Dasher dragonflies (Pachydiplax longipennis) display sexual dimorphism; terminal appendages may be used to differentiate immature males from females.

A Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a young male.

14 MAY 2015 | Huntley Meadows Park | Blue Dasher (immature male)

This individual is an immature male, as indicated by its red eye color, blue partial pruinescence, and terminal appendages. When male Blue Dashers mature, their eyes are blue-green and their abdomen is completely blue except for the black tip.

A Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a young male.

14 MAY 2015 | Huntley Meadows Park | Blue Dasher (immature male)

Some dragonflies, such as Blue Dasher, regulate their body temperature by perching in the “obelisk position”: the tip of the dragonfly’s abdomen is pointed toward the Sun, minimizing the surface area of the body exposed to direct heating by the Sun’s rays, thereby avoiding overheating.

A Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a young male.

14 MAY 2015 | Huntley Meadows Park | Blue Dasher (immature male)

Another immature male was spotted at the same location about a week later.

A Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a young male with a malformed wing.

22 MAY 2015 | Huntley Meadows Park | Blue Dasher (immature male)

Did you notice this individual has a malformed wing? A lot can go wrong when a dragonfly metamorphoses from a larva to an adult!

A Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a young male with a malformed wing.

22 MAY 2015 | Huntley Meadows Park | Blue Dasher (immature male)

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Blue Dasher dragonfly (teneral female)

May 23, 2015

Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis) was spotted during a photowalk at Huntley Meadows Park on 20 May 2015.

A Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a teneral female.

20 MAY 2015 | Huntley Meadows Park | Blue Dasher (teneral female)

This individual is a teneral female, as indicated by its coloration and terminal appendages. Notice the fragile appearance of her wings.

A Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a teneral female.

20 MAY 2015 | Huntley Meadows Park | Blue Dasher (teneral female)

She was sheltering close to the ground in the “drowned forest,” just beyond the end of the boardwalk.

A Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a teneral female.

20 MAY 2015 | Huntley Meadows Park | Blue Dasher (teneral female)

Contrast the appearance of the teneral female shown above with the following slightly more mature female spotted on the same day at a different location.

A Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female.

20 MAY 2015 | Huntley Meadows Park | Blue Dasher (female)

Notice that her eye coloration is changing from red to blue as she matures. Also notice she is perching a few feet above the ground/water, the preferred height for Blue Dashers.

A Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female.

20 MAY 2015 | Huntley Meadows Park | Blue Dasher (female)

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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