Posts Tagged ‘Family Libellulidae (Skimmers)’

Needham’s Skimmer (mature females)

September 25, 2017

In my experience, female Needham’s Skimmer dragonflies (Libellula needhami) seem to be more abundant than males toward the end of the adult flight period for that species.

Two Needham’s Skimmers were photographed during photowalks at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA.

Both individuals are mature female, as indicated by their terminal appendages and muted coloration.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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Up close and personal

September 23, 2017

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

18 SEP 2017 | JMAWR | Swift Setwing (male)

The preceding photograph is the “scene setter” for this gallery. I like to get as close as possible to the subject, and this guy was an extraordinarily cooperative model.

18 SEP 2017 | JMAWR | Swift Setwing (male)

18 SEP 2017 | JMAWR | Swift Setwing (male)

18 SEP 2017 | JMAWR | Swift Setwing (male)

18 SEP 2017 | JMAWR | Swift Setwing (male)

18 SEP 2017 | JMAWR | Swift Setwing (male)

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Black Saddlebags (terminal appendages)

September 15, 2017

Male and female Black Saddlebags dragonflies (Tramea lacerata) are somewhat similar in appearance. Terminal appendages can be used to identify gender.

Female

A female Black Saddlebags was spotted along Deephole Point Road at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA.

10 SEP 2017 | Occoquan Bay NWR | Black Saddlebags (female)

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

10 SEP 2017 | Occoquan Bay NWR | Black Saddlebags (female)

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

Male

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”).

A male Black Saddlebags was spotted in the central wetland area at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

12 SEP 2014 | Huntley Meadows Park | Black Saddlebags (male)

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

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Late-season Swift Setwing dragonflies

September 9, 2017

Several Swift Setwing dragonflies (Dythemis velox) were spotted during a photowalk around Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge (JMAWR), Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

05 SEP 2017 | JMAWR | Swift Setwing (mature male)

Both individuals featured in this post are mature males, as indicated by their terminal appendages, discolored abdomen, and tattered wings.

05 SEP 2017 | JMAWR | Swift Setwing (mature male)

05 SEP 2017 | JMAWR | Swift Setwing (mature male)

Adult Flight Period for Swift Setwing

Late-season Swift Setwing dragonflies,” the title of this blog post, implies that the adult flight period for this species in Northern Virginia is well known. It isn’t.

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. One year later, we’re still gathering data for this newcomer to the region.

The adult flight period for Swift Setwing in the Commonwealth of Virginia is from 20 June to 02 October, according to records maintained by Steven M. Roble, Ph.D., Staff Zoologist, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage.

September is in fact late-season for Swift Setwing, based upon state records — a fact underscored by qualitative observations of the appearance of males photographed in early August and early September at the same location.

Post Update

I just realized Mike Powell spotted the First Swift Setwing in 2017 on 19 June 2017 at Mulligan Pond — a new early date for this species in Virginia!

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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.

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.

Aging gracefully, revisited

August 28, 2017

Great Blue Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula vibrans) was spotted near a vernal pool in the forest at Huntley Meadows Park (HMP), Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a mature female, as indicated by her terminal appendages, discolored abdomen, and tattered wings.

Female Great Blue Skimmers have a pair of flanges beneath their eighth abdominal segment that are used to scoop and hold a few drops of water when laying eggs (oviposition), hence the family name “Skimmer.” Remember that all dragonflies and damselflies have a 10-segmented abdomen, numbered from front to back.

Related Resources

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Aging gracefully

August 26, 2017

Seems like yesterday all of the Skimmer dragonflies (Family Libellulidae) were young and vibrant; now most of them look old and tattered.

A Great Blue Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula vibrans) was spotted near a vernal pool in the forest at Huntley Meadows Park (HMP), Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a mature male, as indicated by his terminal appendages, discolored abdomen, and tattered wings.

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 midabdomen 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.

Reflections on life

Aging gracefully. Yep, that’s my goal. Sometimes I think I’m down with the plan; sometimes I feel more like this dragonfly looks — old and tattered! Having celebrated another birthday recently, it was impossible for me to avoid looking at this dragonfly as a metaphor for my life. Although it’s undeniably true that I’m closer to the end of the road of life than the beginning, I’m happy to be “still on the right side of the grass,” as one of my British friends said soon after life-saving surgery.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Before and After

August 24, 2017

On Saturday, 25 January 2014, I had the honor of co-presenting a program called “Flying Dragons” with Kevin Munroe, former Park Manager, Huntley Meadows Park. Kevin invited me to talk about how to make the transition from a beginner- to intermediate/advanced-intermediate dragonfly hunter. I prepared a photoblog post related to my part of the program, called “Five steps to the next level of dragonfly spotting.” Step 1 is as follows.

Step 1. Be aware the same species of dragonfly may appear differently depending upon gender, age, and natural variation. Some species display sexual dimorphism; in contrast, both genders look virtually identical for some species. Finally, females of some species display polymorphism (also known as polychromatism).

Male Needham’s Skimmer dragonflies (Libellula needhami) look different depending upon age, as shown by the “Before” and “After” photos (below). Further, immature male Needham’s Skimmers look similar to immature/mature females of the same species. Although this might be confusing for a beginner dragonfly hunter, with patience and persistence everything falls into place relatively quickly.

Before

Male Needham’s Skimmers were photographed during photowalks at Painted Turtle Pond, Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA in late-June and again in late-July. Notice the dramatic difference in appearance of the same species of dragonfly.

After

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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.


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