Posts Tagged ‘Eastern Amberwing dragonfly’

Pond pals

September 7, 2017

A male Eastern Amberwing dragonfly (Perithemis tenera) was spotted perching on the nose of a water turtle, possibly a Northern Red-bellied Cooter (Pseudemys rubriventris), at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge (JMAWR), Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

02 AUG 2017 | JMAWR | Eastern Amberwing (male) and water turtle

As soon as the turtle surfaced the dragonfly appeared out of thin air and landed on the turtle’s nose. I shot two photos before the turtle dove underwater and swam out of sight, but for a magical moment, the turtle and dragonfly were pond pals!

Editor’s Notes

Sincere thanks to Matt Ratcliffe, member of the Virginia Odonata Facebook group, for confirming my tentative identification of the water turtle. Now that the identity of the turtle is certain, I named the pair of pond pals Scooter and Cooter.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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Exuviart

August 22, 2017

Regular readers of my blog remember when I coined the term “Odonart” and created an “Odonart Portfolio.”

I just coined a new term: “Exuviart.” Exuviart is a concatenation of two words: exuvia; and art. The following photographs are the first additions to the Exuviart wing of my Odonart Portfolio.


Unpublished Photo

An Eastern Amberwing dragonfly (Perithemis tenera) exuvia, from the Family Libellulidae (Skimmers), was collected from the Potomac River in Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

Whenever possible, I like to collect exuviae along with some of the vegetation that was the site for emergence. The vegetation helps to show scale. In this case, the small specimen is approximately 1.4 cm (~0.6″) in length and approximately 0.6 cm (~0.2″) in maximum width. I like the way the desiccated leaf retained its color and gained a velvety texture.

Tech Tips

The following equipment was used to shoot the preceding photograph: Canon EOS 5D Mark II DSLR; Canon EF100mm f/2.8 Macro lens plus Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter; Canon 580EX II Speedlite; Canon 580EX Speedlite; and a coiled six-foot Vello Off-Camera TTL Flash Cord for Canon Cameras. The specimen was staged on a piece of white plastic (12″ square, matte finish).


Published Photos

A Common Green Darner dragonfly (Anax junius) exuvia, from the Family Aeshnidae (Darners), was collected at Hidden Pond, Meadowood Recreation Area (MRA), Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

Tech Tips

The following equipment was used to shoot the preceding photograph: Canon EOS 5D Mark II digital camera, in manual mode; Canon EF100mm f/2.8L Macro lens (set for manual focus); Canon 580EX II external flash, off-camera, in manual mode; Canon 580EX external flash, off-camera, in manual mode; and a Yongnuo YN-622C-TX E-TTL II Wireless Flash Controller for Canon plus a two-pack of Yongnuo YN-622C II E-TTL Wireless Flash Transceivers for Canon.


A Cobra Clubtail dragonfly (Gomphurus vastus) exuvia, from the Family Gomphidae (Clubtails), was collected at Riverbend Park with permission from park staff.

Tech Tips

The following equipment was used to shoot the preceding photograph: Canon EOS 5D Mark II digital camera, in manual mode; Canon EF100mm f/2.8L Macro lens (set for manual focus) plus a Kenko 20mm macro automatic extension tube and Raynox DCR-250 close-up filter; Canon 580EX II external flash, off-camera, in manual mode; Canon 580EX external flash, off-camera, in manual mode; and a Yongnuo YN-622C-TX E-TTL II Wireless Flash Controller for Canon plus a two-pack of Yongnuo YN-622C II E-TTL Wireless Flash Transceivers for Canon.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

New discoveries in 2016

December 26, 2016

The more you know, the more you know how much you don’t know. Huh? There’s always more to discover/learn! My new discoveries in 2016 are presented in reverse-chronological order.

Eastern Amberwing dragonfly exuviae

Perithemis tenera exuviae, published on 06 December 2016.

An Eastern Amberwing dragonfly (Perithemis tenera) exuvia collected from the Potomac River, Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

07 JUL 2016 | Potomac River | Eastern Amberwing (exuvia, head-on)

I’m a man on a mission to demystify the art and science of odonate exuviae identification. The task is as challenging as I was led to believe, but with determination and persistence it is do-able.

The specimens featured in this post are the first odonate exuviae that I was able to identify to the species level. Although the specimens were collected in early July, they were identified in early December. New species will be added to my Odonate Exuviae page when their identity is confirmed.


Mulligan Pond at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge (JMAWR) is a familiar location where several species, previously unknown to occur at the park, were discovered in 2016.

Shadow Darner dragonfly

Shadow Darner dragonfly (female), posted on 18 October 2016.

A Shadow Darner dragonfly (Aeshna umbrosa) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female heteromorph.

14 OCT 2016 | JMAWR | Shadow Darner (female heteromorph)

Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly

Russet-tipped Clubtail dragonfly (male), posted on 26 September 2016.

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly

Another new species discovered at JMAWR, posted on 20 September 2016.

Lancet Clubtail dragonfly

Identifying clubtails by the calendar, posted on 30 June 2016.

A Lancet Clubtail dragonfly (Gomphus exilis) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

26 JUN 2016 | JMAWR | Lancet Clubtail (male)


In addition to my contributions to the odonate species list at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Mike Powell discovered the first official record of Swift Setwing at JMAWR and in Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Perithemis tenera exuviae

December 6, 2016

Several unknown dragonfly exuviae were collected on 07 July 2016 from the Potomac River, Fairfax County, Virginia USA; two of the specimens are featured in this post. A two-step process was used to identify the genus and species of the specimens.

Family

First, determine the family of the specimens. For reference, watch the excellent Vimeo video, Identifying dragonfly larva to family (8:06).

The exuviae have a mask-like labium (not flat) with smooth crenulations, indicating these individuals are members of Family Libellulidae (Skimmers).

Genus and species

A dichotomous key was used to tentatively identify the exuviae as Eastern Amberwing dragonfly (Perithemis tenera), as indicated by the following morphological characteristics.

  • The cerci (sing. cercus) are slightly less than half the length of the paraprocts.
  • Dorsal hooks are clearly visible on abdominal segments four through nine (S4-9), plus a “nub” that is visible on segment three (S3).
  • Lateral spines are clearly visible on abdominal segments eight and nine (S8-9).

These specimens are the first odonate exuviae that I was able to identify to the species level. Sincere thanks to Sue Gregoire, Kestrel Haven Migration Observatory, for verifying my preliminary observations and tentative identification.

No. 1

Each specimen is approximately 1.4 cm (~0.6″) in length and approximately 0.6 cm (~0.2″) in maximum width. In Photo No. 1, the specimen shown on the left is an emergent nymph that was stuck in its exuvia.

A pair of Eastern Amberwing dragonfly (Perithemis tenera) exuviae collected from the Potomac River, Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

No. 1 | Eastern Amberwing (Perithemis tenera) | exuviae (lateral, dorsal)

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

The white filaments that extend from the split in the thorax (as shown in Photo No. 1-3) are breathing tubes, artifacts of the unique respiratory system of dragonfly nymphs.

No. 2

An Eastern Amberwing dragonfly (Perithemis tenera) exuvia collected from the Potomac River, Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

No. 2 | Eastern Amberwing (Perithemis tenera) | exuviae (dorsal)

No. 3

The eyes are relatively small and widely separated. Notice the mask-like labium (sometimes referred to as “spoon-shaped”) with smooth crenulations along the margins between two lateral lobes.

An Eastern Amberwing dragonfly (Perithemis tenera) exuvia collected from the Potomac River, Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

No. 3 | Eastern Amberwing (Perithemis tenera) | exuviae (head-on)

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

No. 4

One of the keys to identifying skimmer dragonflies to the species level is to carefully examine the anal pyramid (see S10, shown below), including the cerci (sing. cercus) and paraprocts. Notice the cerci are slightly less than half the length of the paraprocts.

An Eastern Amberwing dragonfly (Perithemis tenera) exuvia collected from the Potomac River, Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

No. 4 | Eastern Amberwing (Perithemis tenera) | exuviae (anal pyramid)

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

Tech Tips:

The following equipment was used to shoot the preceding photographs:

Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 was used to annotate selected images.

Related Resources:

dichotomous key: a key for the identification of organisms based on a series of choices between alternative characters. Source Credit: Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Assuming the convention of labeling the two branches of each dichotomy as “a” and “b”, e.g. 1a, 1b, etc., a list of branches in the decision tree that I used to identify the species of the dragonfly exuviae is as follows: 1b; 4b; 5a; 6a BINGO!

In long form, the decision tree is as follows:

p. 36, Key to the Genera of the Family Libellulidae
1b – Eyes lower, more broadly rounded and more lateral in position; abdomen usually ending more bluntly. [Go to] 4
4b – These appendages [inferior abdominal appendages (paraprocts)] straight or nearly so. [Go to] 5
5a – Dorsal hooks on some abdominal segments. [Go to] 6
6a – Dorsal hook on 9. Perithemis (One species, Perithemis tenera.) BINGO!

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Things are not always what they seem

October 6, 2015

Male Eastern Amberwing dragonflies (Perithemis tenera) are so distinctive in appearance that you can identify them with just a quick glance, right? Maybe; maybe not.

Things are not always what they seem: the first appearance deceives many; the intelligence of a few perceives what has been carefully hidden. Source Credit: Phaedrus.

When I spotted the following Eastern Amberwing dragonfly along Barnyard Run at Huntley Meadows Park, I misidentified it as a male. Truth be told, I always thought its terminal appendages look more female than male, but I allowed myself to be fooled by the reddish-orange coloration of its wings. Turns out this individual is either an andromorph or gynandromorph female.

An Eastern Amberwing dragonfly (Perithemis tenera) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is an andromorph female.

29 JUN 2015 | HMP | Eastern Amberwing (female, gynandromorph)

heteromorph is a female that looks different than a male. An andromorph is a female that resembles a male. A gynandromorph combines both male and female characteristics.

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”). Female dragonflies have a pair of cerci (superior appendages) that have little or no function.

Look closely at the full-size version of the preceding annotated image. Notice this individual appears to have three cerci. For this reason, Dr. Dennis Paulson hypothesizes this individual may be a gynandromorph.

In contrast, heteromorph female Eastern Amberwings, such as the one shown below, feature two and only two cerci plus mostly clear wings with a variable pattern of wing spots.

An Eastern Amberwing dragonfly (Perithemis tenera) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female.

05 AUG 2015 | HMP | Eastern Amberwing (female, heteromorph)

After a second look at my photo library, I discovered another possible andromorph/gynandromorph female spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge.

An Eastern Amberwing dragonfly (Perithemis tenera) spotted at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is an andromorph female.

24 JUL 2015 | JMAWR | Eastern Amberwing (female, gynandromorph)

Several males were spotted at the same location. Look closely at the full-size version of the preceding and following photos. Notice the difference in appearance between the terminal appendages of the andromorph/gynandromorph female (shown above) and male (shown below).

An Eastern Amberwing dragonfly (Perithemis tenera) spotted at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

24 JUL 2015 | JMAWR | Eastern Amberwing (male)

See? There’s a reason I’m fixated on odonate terminal appendages! Dr. Paulson and I are curious to know whether other naturalists have spotted andromorph/gynandromorph female Eastern Amberwing dragonflies.

Since this post began with a quote from Phaedrus, somehow it seems appropriate it should end with another quote.

The only problem with seeing too much is that it makes you insane. Source Credit: Phaedrus.

Editor’s Note: Sincere thanks to Dennis Paulson for verifying my tentative identification of the andromorph/gyandromorph female Eastern Amberwing dragonfly spotted on 29 June 2015. I was motivated to double-check my initial identification after recently noticing the following quote from one of Dennis’ excellent books.

Very rare andromorph females may have entirely yellow-orange wings as males, with some dark smudging. Source Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Locations 9406-9407). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Eastern Amberwing dragonflies (female, male)

August 17, 2015
An Eastern Amberwing dragonfly (Perithemis tenera) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female.

05 AUG 2015 | Dogue Creek | Eastern Amberwing (female)

I prefer the subtle coloration of female Eastern Amberwing dragonflies (Perithemis tenera), like the one shown above.

Some people like the gaudy coloration of male Eastern Amberwings, such as the one shown below.

An Eastern Amberwing dragonfly (Perithemis tenera) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

29 JUN 2015 | Barnyard Run | Eastern Amberwing (male)

Both individuals were spotted either in or near Huntley Meadows Park.

The female is perching in a field located just south of Dogue Creek, near the head-end of the Hike-Bike Trail.

Step 3. Spend time in the field, literally. Take time to look carefully. Search fields near water (sometimes far from water) where you may find immature- and female dragonflies. BEWARE of chiggers and ticks! Source Credit: Five steps to the next level of dragonfly spotting.

The male is perching facing Barnyard Run, waiting for a hook-up with a female.

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Eastern Amberwing dragonfly (male)

September 5, 2014

Another photograph from the “simpler is better” school of thought …

Eastern Amberwing dragonfly (male)

The preceding photo shows an Eastern Amberwing dragonfly (Perithemis tenera) perching alongside the boardwalk in the central wetland area hemi-marsh at Huntley Meadows Park on 20 August 2014. This individual is a male, as indicated by its coloration and terminal appendages.

Eastern Amberwing is the smallest of 37 species of dragonflies on the “Dragonflies and Damselflies of Huntley Meadows Park” species list. Elfin Skimmer (Nannothemis bella) is the smallest species of dragonfly in North America, measuring approximately one inch (1″) in length!

Editor’s Note: This photo was taken using my new Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera and 55-200mm zoom lens (88-320mm, 35mm equivalent). I used the Fujifilm Shoe Mount Flash EF-42 in TTL mode with a shutter speed of 1/250s.

Copyright © 2014 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Eastern Amberwing dragonfly (female)

September 5, 2013

The following photo gallery features an Eastern Amberwing dragonfly (Perithemis tenera). This individual is a female, as indicated by its coloration and terminal appendages.

This specimen was spotted in a field located between the Pollinator Garden and Enchanted Pond, Meadowood Recreation Area, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

Copyright © 2013 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Eastern Amberwing dragonfly diptychs

December 9, 2011
Img_1223Img_1222

The preceding gallery shows diptychs of an Eastern Amberwing dragonfly (Perithemis tenera) spotted during a photowalk through Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

The diptychs (shown above), entitled “An Eastern Frame of Mind,” were created using Aperture and Diptic app for Apple iOS mobile devices. See full-size versions of the photos used to create the preceding diptychs: Eastern Amberwing dragonfly.

Copyright © 2011 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Eastern Amberwing dragonfly

August 5, 2011

The following photos show an Eastern Amberwing dragonfly (Perithemis tenera) spotted during a photowalk through Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

The Eastern Amberwing, a member of the Skimmer Family of dragonflies, is easily recognized by its relatively small size, brown body with a striped abdomen, and amber colored wings featuring red pterostigmas. The Eastern Amberwing is the smallest species of dragonfly found at Huntley Meadows.

Img_3929_ver2_apertureImg_3930_ver2_apertureImg_3914_aperture

Copyright © 2011 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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