Posts Tagged ‘Family Libellulidae (Skimmers)’

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!

Related Resources:

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Blue Corporal dragonflies (males)

April 24, 2017

Several Blue Corporal dragonflies (Ladona deplanata) were spotted at Hidden Pond, Meadowood Recreation Area, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. All of the individuals featured in this post are males, as indicated by their coloration and terminal appendages.

Blue Corporals are among the first species of odonates to emerge in the spring, beginning in mid-April. Hidden Pond is one of a few places in Northern Virginia where Blue Corporals are relatively common.

Although Blue Corporals prefer to perch flat on the ground, sometimes they pose for “Odonarty” photos, as shown below.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Common Whitetail (teneral female)

April 6, 2017

After a seemingly endless off-season, I’m pleased to report odonate hunting season has begun in Northern Virginia!

05 APR 2017 | ABWR | Common Whitetail (teneral female)

A Common Whitetail dragonfly (Plathemis lydia) was spotted during a photowalk along Beaver Pond Loop Trail at Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge (ABWR), Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a teneral female, as indicated by her terminal appendages and the tenuous appearance of her wings.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Autumn Meadowhawk (mature female)

April 4, 2017

25 OCT 2016 | OBNWR | Autumn Meadowhawk (mature female)

The preceding photograph shows an Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum vicinum) perching on fall foliage at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge (OBNWR), Prince William County, Virginia USA. This individual is a mature female, as indicated by her terminal appendages, coloration, and tattered wings.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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.

Personality

March 9, 2017

In my experience, some dragonflies have a personality. Like this male Banded Pennant dragonfly (Celithemis fasciata) spotted at Hidden Pond, Meadowood Recreation Area, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

I photographed two other male Banded Pennants; both of them were relatively skittish. Not this guy. It’s like he sensed I wasn’t a threat to his well-being and allowed me to get up close and, well, personal.

Regular readers of my photoblog know I’m fond of head-tilts — one way in which dragonflies seem to display some of their personality. Both shots show a slight head-tilt to the left.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Slaty Skimmer dragonflies (mating pair)

March 7, 2017

Odonates (dragonflies and damselflies) are aquatic insects that spend most of their life as larvae that live in water; this stage of their life cycle can last from a few months to a few years, depending upon the species. Finally, they emerge from the water and metamorphose into adults in order to reproduce; their offspring return to the water and the cycle begins again.

A mating pair of Slaty Skimmer dragonflies (Libellula incesta) was spotted at Painted Turtle Pond, Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge (OBNWR), Prince William County, Virginia USA. This pair is “in wheel”: the male is on the upper-left; the female on the lower-right.

A mating pair of Slaty Skimmer dragonflies (Libellula incesta) spotted at Painted Turtle Pond, Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA. This pair is "in wheel."

18 JUN 2016 | OBNWR | Slaty Skimmer (mating pair, “in wheel“)

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.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Widow Skimmers at Riverbend Park

February 25, 2017

A couple of Widow Skimmer dragonflies (Libellula luctuosa) were spotted while hunting for clubtail dragonflies along the Potomac River at Riverbend Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. Riverbend Park is a “big river” habitat, so I was surprised to see Widow Skimmers.

Habitat Lakes, ponds, and pools in slow streams of all kinds with mud bottoms and usually much vegetation, in open and wooded habitats. Common at farm ponds and other created habitats. Source Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Locations 9061-9063). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

Male

The first photo features a mature male, as indicated by his coloration, pattern of wing spots, and terminal appendages. This individual has mated many times, as shown by scratches on the white pruinescence covering his abdomen.

Female

A female is shown in the last two photos, as indicated by her coloration, pattern of wing spots, and terminal appendages.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Blue-faced Meadowhawk (male, malformed)

February 15, 2017

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum ambiguum) was spotted near a vernal pool at Huntley Meadows Park (HMP). This individual is a male, as indicated by his coloration and terminal appendages.

The male’s abdomen is slightly malformed. The malformation is more noticeable in the preceding photo and easy to overlook in the following photo.

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.


%d bloggers like this: