Posts Tagged ‘Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly’

Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly (female)

June 5, 2019

An Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly (Erythemis simplicicollis) was spotted during a photowalk with Mike Powell at Occoquan Regional Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female, as indicated by her terminal appendages.

Beginners beware — immature male Eastern Pondhawks are the same color as females of the same species.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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Test shots: Erythemis simplicicollis exuvia

November 16, 2018

An Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis) exuvia was received from Andy Davidson, a graduate student at Virginia Commonwealth University.

This individual is a male, as indicated by the vestigial hamules visible on the ventral side of the exuvia, abdominal segments two and three (S2-S3).

Food for Thought

This exuvia is one of three “cast skins” from odonate nymphs that were collected in the field and reared in the laboratory as part of a research project entitled “Predator-Prey Interactions in a Changing World.” Since all three nymphs were collected from the James River rock pools, I assume they lived in essentially the same habitat. I wonder why the E. simplicollis exuvia is so much darker in color than either the P. flavescens or P. longipennis exuviae.

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Tech Tips

The following equipment was used to shoot both of the macro photographs featured in this post: Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera; Fujifilm MCEX-11 extension tube; and Fujinon XF80mm macro lens. The camera was set for both manual exposure and manual focus. That’s right, a switch on the camera body is used to set the type of focus. It’s a Fujifilm thing. Actually, back-button focus was used to autofocus the image and adjusted manually as necessary. That’s also a Fujifilm thing.

Godox XProF radio flash trigger, mounted on the hotshoe of my X-T1, was used to control a pair of off-camera Godox TT685 Thinklite TTL Flashes (TT685F and TT685C) set for radio slave mode. Each flash was fitted with a snap-on plastic diffuser.

Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 was used to spot-heal and sharpen both images.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

The party’s over

May 22, 2017

Several Eastern Pondhawk dragonflies (Erythemis simplicicollis) were spotted during a photowalk along a mid-size stream in Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

10 MAY 2017 | Fairfax County, VA | Eastern Pondhawk (immature male)

For some types of dragonflies, immature males have the same coloration as females of the same species. This is true for many members of the Family Libellulidae (Skimmers) such as Eastern Pondhawk. Terminal appendages can be used to identify gender.

10 MAY 2017 | Fairfax County, VA | Eastern Pondhawk (female)

The Backstory

I visited a new location in Fairfax County, Virginia on 03 May 2017, following my hunch that the spot might be a good place to find some of the more uncommon species of odonates. Turns out my hunch was right!

I revisited the same location a week later. Let’s just say lightning didn’t strike the same place twice. I saw several Eastern Pondhawks but none of the uncommon species of odonates that I saw a week earlier. I don’t know whether it’s phenology or the fact that Eastern Pondhawks are voracious predators, but it seems like whenever they show up it’s game over for the uncommon species of dragonflies and damselflies that emerge during spring. By the way, that explains the title of this post.

When I see the first-of-season Eastern Pondhawks, I start singing “The Party’s Over” like Don Meredith used to at the end of Monday Night Football games on ABC-TV. Yes, I’m old enough to remember Dandy Don!

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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.

Eastern Pondhawk dragonflies (mating pair)

October 26, 2016
A mating pair of Eastern Pondhawk dragonflies (Erythemis simplicicollis) spotted at Hidden Pond, Meadowood Recreation Area. Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is "in wheel." The female is infested with water mites.

21 JUN 2016 | MRA | Eastern Pondhawk (mating pair, “in wheel”)

A mating pair of Eastern Pondhawk dragonflies (Erythemis simplicicollis) was spotted along the earthen dam at Hidden PondMeadowood Recreation Area. This pair is “in wheel“: the male is on the upper-right; the female is on the lower-left.

Eastern Pondhawks mate quickly.

Copulation brief (averages 20 sec) and aerial, may be followed by resting period. Source Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Location 10228). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

The mating pair was in wheel when they landed. I was able to shoot one photo before they finished copulating!

Look closely at the full-size version of the preceding photo. Notice the female is infested with parasitic water mites on the underside of her abdomen.

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Eastern Pondhawk (female, eating prey)

June 28, 2016
An Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly (Erythemis simplicicollis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female, shown eating prey (an unknown winged insect).

09 JUN 2016 | HMP | Eastern Pondhawk (female, eating prey)

An Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly (Erythemis simplicicollis) was spotted at Huntley Meadows Park (HMP). This individual is a female, as indicated by her coloration and white terminal appendages. Notice the dragonfly is eating an unknown winged insect.

The Backstory: While I was sitting on my Coleman camp stool waiting for Unicorn Clubtail dragonflies to come to my location, I spotted an Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly perching on the ground a few feet to my right side. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the dragonfly suddenly flew up and made a short loop back to its former perch. Thinking the Pondhawk probably captured some sort of prey, I turned to take a photograph. I was able to take two photos before the dragonfly flew away. I guess she didn’t want to share her mid-morning snack with me!

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

A Southern Fortnight, Part 7 – “Arty”

September 14, 2015

The Backstory: A Southern Fortnight

For the first two weeks during May 2015, Southern Spreadwing damselflies (Lestes australis) were observed at a vernal pool and nearby drainage ditch in the forest at Huntley Meadows Park. I spotted approximately six males and several females during the fortnight. Their sudden disappearance seemed to coincide with a population explosion of Eastern Pondhawk dragonflies (Erythemis simplicicollis) in mid-May. Eastern Pondhawks, especially females, are voracious predators with a penchant for preying upon damselflies.


Alas, all good things must come to an end. This is the last post in what turned out to be a seven-part series called “A Southern Fortnight.” But don’t be sad because I saved some of the better photos for last! The male Southern Spreadwing featured in this post had a preference for perching in front of colorful vegetation that enabled me to capture shots of the damselfly sharply-focused against beautiful bokeh backgrounds, while he waited patiently for a mating partner to join him.

In order to avoid “camera shake” when using my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 superzoom bridge camera, I prefer to shoot in shutter priority auto-exposure mode. The rule-of-thumb for tack-sharp photos recommends a shutter speed that is equal to or greater than the reciprocal of the lens focal length (actual focal length for full-frame sensor cameras or 35mm equivalent for crop sensor cameras), in my case, no less than 1/800s for a 600mm equivalent telephoto lens. The following photo was shot in shutter priority mode: ISO 100 | 108mm/600mm | f/5.2 | 1/1000s | 0 ev.

A Southern Spreadwing damselfly (Lestes australis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

08 MAY 2015 | HMP | Southern Spreadwing (male)

Whenever the subject is as cooperative as this one and I have the luxury of time, I will shoot some photos in aperture priority auto-exposure mode in order to get greater depth-of-field. At a smaller aperture, the camera will often select a relatively slow shutter speed so it is essential to hold the camera rock-steady and that usually means using a tripod. In this case, I was sitting on my Coleman camp stool with my elbows resting on my knees. The following photo was shot in aperture priority mode: ISO 100 | 108mm/600mm | f/7.1 | 1/160s | 0 ev.

A Southern Spreadwing damselfly (Lestes australis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

08 MAY 2015 | HMP | Southern Spreadwing (male)

Notice the terminal appendages are out of focus in the following photo. Usually I wouldn’t publish a photo like this one, but decided to make an exception since it’s the only photo in this set that shows both the damselfly’s light-blue face and his hamules. The male’s claspers are clearly in focus in the four other photos.

A Southern Spreadwing damselfly (Lestes australis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

08 MAY 2015 | HMP | Southern Spreadwing (male)

Although the last two photos show the damselfly in nearly the same pose, I chose to use both images due to subtle variations in the coloration of the background.

A Southern Spreadwing damselfly (Lestes australis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

08 MAY 2015 | HMP | Southern Spreadwing (male)

A Southern Spreadwing damselfly (Lestes australis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

08 MAY 2015 | HMP | Southern Spreadwing (male)

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Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

A Southern Fortnight, Part 4 – Southern Spreadwing damselfly (female)

June 30, 2015

The Backstory: A Southern Fortnight

For the first two weeks during May 2015, Southern Spreadwing damselflies (Lestes australis) were observed at a vernal pool and nearby drainage ditch in the forest at Huntley Meadows Park. I spotted approximately six males and several females during the fortnight. Their sudden disappearance seemed to coincide with a population explosion of Eastern Pondhawk dragonflies (Erythemis simplicicollis) in mid-May. Eastern Pondhawks, especially females, are voracious predators with a penchant for preying upon damselflies.


A Southern Spreadwing damselfly (Lestes australis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This is the female member of a mating pair, resting after laying eggs (oviposition).

07 MAY 2015 | Huntley Meadows Park | Southern Spreadwing (female)

An adult female Southern Spreadwing was spotted perching on vegetation alongside a drainage ditch in the forest. She was resting after laying eggs (oviposition) in tandem with an adult male Southern Spreadwing.

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Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

A Southern Fortnight, Part 3 – Southern Spreadwing damselfly (male)

May 13, 2015

The Backstory: A Southern Fortnight

For the first two weeks during May 2015, Southern Spreadwing damselflies (Lestes australis) were observed at a vernal pool and nearby drainage ditch in the forest at Huntley Meadows Park. I spotted approximately six males and several females during the fortnight. Their sudden disappearance seemed to coincide with a population explosion of Eastern Pondhawk dragonflies (Erythemis simplicicollis) in mid-May. Eastern Pondhawks, especially females, are voracious predators with a penchant for preying upon damselflies.


Southern Spreadwing damselfly (Lestes australis) was spotted perching on vegetation in a vernal pool at Huntley Meadows Park. This individual is a male, as indicated by its coloration and terminal appendages.

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

A Southern Fortnight, Part 2 – Damselfly terminal appendages (male)

May 11, 2015

The Backstory: A Southern Fortnight

For the first two weeks during May 2015, Southern Spreadwing damselflies (Lestes australis) were observed at a vernal pool and nearby drainage ditch in the forest at Huntley Meadows Park. I spotted approximately six males and several females during the fortnight. Their sudden disappearance seemed to coincide with a population explosion of Eastern Pondhawk dragonflies (Erythemis simplicicollis) in mid-May. Eastern Pondhawks, especially females, are voracious predators with a penchant for preying upon damselflies.


All male damselflies have four terminal appendages, collectively called “claspers.” Male damselfly terminal appendages don’t look exactly the same for all species of damselflies, but their function is identical.

Claspers are used to grab and hold female damselflies during mating: an upper pair of cerci (“superior appendages”) and a lower pair of paraprocts (“inferior appendages”).

Damselflies, including the larger members of the Spreadwing Family, are smaller than dragonflies. Please look at the full-size version of each annotated image in order to see critical details that cannot be seen in the preceding thumbnail versions.

For example, the first image shows the male hamules, …

paired structures that project from pocket under the second segment and hold female abdomen in place during copulation. Source Credit: Glossary [of] Some Dragonfly Terms, by Dennis R. Paulson.

The hamules are key field markers for differentiating some species of similar-looking damselflies, such as Southern Spreadwing (Lestes australis) and Sweetflag Spreadwing (Lestes forcipatus).

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Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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