Posts Tagged ‘Family Libellulidae (Skimmers)’

The old gray mare

September 23, 2020

A Great Blue Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula vibrans) was spotted during a photowalk with Michael Powell along Deephole Point Road at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA.

This individual is an old female, as indicated by her coloration and terminal appendages.

Oh the old gray mare
She ain’t what she used to be

Like a fine wine, she’s aged to perfection!

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly (female)

September 18, 2020

An Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly (Erythemis simplicicollis) was spotted during a photowalk with Michael Powell along Deephole Point Road at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

This individual is a female, as indicated by her green coloration and white terminal appendages.

15 SEP 2020 | OBNWR | Eastern Pondhawk (female)

Look closely at the full-size version of the preceding photo. Notice the subgenital plate, a black upside-down “shark fin” located beneath abdominal segment eight.

Underneath Segment 8 there is either an ovipositor or a subgenital plate, depending upon the species [of dragonfly]. Both structures are for laying eggs and extend over Segment 9 and possibly beyond. Source Credit: Dragonflies of the North Woods, by Kurt Mead.

Remember that “Segment 8 and 9” refers to abdominal segments eight and nine (of 10), numbered from front-to-back.

Related Resource: Eastern Pondhawk dragonflies, a photo-illustrated guide to the identification of male- and female terminal appendages.

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Tattered

September 16, 2020

18 AUG 2020 | JMAWR | Slaty Skimmer (male)

The preceding photo shows a Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula incesta) that was spotted during a photowalk with Michael Powell near Mulligan Pond at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge (JMAWR) in Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

This individual is a mature male, as indicated by his coloration, tattered wings, and terminal appendages.

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Blue Dasher dragonfly (male)

September 14, 2020

Ubiquitous. Yep, that’s Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis).

18 AUG 2020 | JMAWR | Blue Dasher (male)

A male Blue Dasher was spotted during a photowalk with Michael Powell around Mulligan Pond at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge (JMAWR) in Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Common Whitetail dragonfly (mature male)

September 11, 2020

A Common Whitetail dragonfly (Plathemis lydia) was spotted during a photowalk with Michael Powell around Mulligan Pond at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge (JMAWR) in Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

This individual is a mature male, as indicated by his coloration, pattern of wing spots, and terminal appendages.

18 AUG 2020 | JMAWR | Common Whitetail (mature male)

Common Whitetail” is one of a few common names for odonates that makes perfect sense, at least for males. This species is found commonly in lentic habitats. It’s one of the first species to emerge during spring and one of the last to disappear in fall.

Although Common Whitetail is easy to find, it can be challenging to photograph mature males without blowing out the highlights in their bright white abdomen.

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Stealthy spider stalks Swift Setwing

September 4, 2020

There I was, trying to create some Odonart©.

18 AUG 2020 | 12:02:18 PM | JMAWR | Swift Setwing (male)

As I “worked the shot,” the imaginary soundtrack in my mind reminded me of the music bed at the beginning of Bambi Meets Godzilla. Peaceful. And just as suddenly as the animated film ends rudely, the idyllic scene before my eyes took a turn for the ugly!

Cue the Jaws Theme Song as the walk-on music for a Long-jawed Orb Weaver.

18 AUG 2020 | 12:03:10 PM | JMAWR | Swift Setwing (male)

52 seconds of elapsed time could have been the difference between life and death for the dragonfly. As far as I know, the Swift Setwing survived this near-death experience.

The Backstory

Swift Setwing dragonfly (Dythemis velox) was spotted during a photowalk with Michael Powell around Mulligan Pond at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge (JMAWR) in Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male, as indicated by his terminal appendages.

The first photo was taken when the dragonfly landed on a grass stem near the shoreline of the pond. Soon afterward his wings were “set” forward in the position from which the latter part of its common name is derived, as shown in the last photo. It is assumed by the author that the set wing position enables the dragonfly to take flight swiftly — a useful adaptation when being stalked by a stealthy spider!

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (male, No. 2)

September 2, 2020

The following photo shows a Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula incesta) that was spotted during a photowalk with Michael Powell near Mulligan Pond at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge (JMAWR) in Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

This individual is a mature male, as indicated by his coloration and terminal appendages.

18 AUG 2020 | JMAWR | Slaty Skimmer (male)

This mature male has mated many times, as indicated by the scratches on his abdomen.

Males that have mated often have marks on their abdomen where the female legs have scratched them. This is especially obvious in species in which males develop pruinosity, as the pruinosity on the mid-abdomen is scratched off, and the signs are visible at some distance. Source Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Locations 390-392). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Great Blue Skimmer (mature male)

August 28, 2020

A Great Blue Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula vibrans) was spotted during a photowalk with Michael Powell around Mulligan Pond at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge (JMAWR) in Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

This individual is a mature male, as indicated by his slightly tattered wings, blue coloration, and terminal appendages.

18 AUG 2020 | JMAWR | Great Blue Skimmer (mature male)

This male has mated many times, as indicated by the scratches on his abdomen.

Males that have mated often have marks on their abdomen where the female legs have scratched them. This is especially obvious in species in which males develop pruinosity, as the pruinosity on the mid-abdomen is scratched off, and the signs are visible at some distance. Source Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Locations 390-392). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

Tech Tips

The preceding photo is full-frame (4,000 x 3,000 pixels), that is, uncropped.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 is one of two superzoom bridge cameras that I use as my “go to” rigs for photowalking. The minimum focusing distance in AF Macro mode is 1 m (3.3 feet) at maximum telephoto (600 mm, 35mm equivalent). My usual practice is to set the camera lens for maximum telephoto and move as close as possible to the minimum focusing distance, resulting in maximum magnification of the subject. That’s how I shot the photo shown above.

It’s worth noting the minimum focusing distance is 2 m (6.6 feet) at maximum telephoto when the camera IS NOT set for AF Macro mode. If your goal is to get as close as possible to the subject in order to fill the photo frame, then AF Macro mode is the way to go.

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Odonart©

August 24, 2020

18 AUG 2020 | JMAWR | Swift Setwing (male)

The Odonart© Exhibit is located in one wing of the ARThropod Gallery. (See what I did there?) My Odonart© Portfolio is featured in the exhibit.

The Backstory

A Swift Setwing dragonfly (Dythemis velox) was spotted during a photowalk with Michael Powell around Mulligan Pond at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge (JMAWR) in Fairfax County. Virginia USA. This individual is a male, as indicated by his terminal appendages.

The Dragonflies of Northern Virginia Calendar of Flight Periods by Kevin Munroe, former manager at Huntley Meadows Park, doesn’t include Swift Setwing because the species was unknown to occur in Northern Virginia before it was discovered on 24 June 2016 in Fairfax County by my good friend Michael Powell. Years later, we’re still gathering data for this relative newcomer to the region.

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

We have a history

August 21, 2020

An Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly (Erythemis simplicicollis) was spotted during a photowalk with Michael Powell near Mulligan Pond at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge (JMAWR) in Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

This individual is a female, as indicated by her coloration and terminal appendages. Eastern Pondhawk, especially female E. simplicicollis, are voracious predators.

18 AUG 2020 | JMAWR | Eastern Pondhawk (female)

Regular readers of my blog know I love me some head-tilts, as shown in the preceding photo.

18 AUG 2020 | JMAWR | Eastern Pondhawk (female)

The Backstory

As the title of this blog post suggests, Eastern Pondhawk and I have a history — a negative history. A cohort of Southern Spreadwing damselflies (Lestes australis) was observed for a two-week period during early May 2015 at a vernal pool in the forest at Huntley Meadows Park.

The sudden disappearance of the damselfly cohort seemed to coincide with a population explosion of Eastern Pondhawk in mid-May. After years of heavy predation by Eastern Pondhawk, Southern Spreadwing disappeared completely from the vernal pool.

Related Resource: A Southern Fortnight – Part 1-7.

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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