Posts Tagged ‘female’

Unicorn Clubtail (female terminal appendages)

September 22, 2018

Two field markers can be used to identify female Unicorn Clubtail dragonflies (Arigomphus villosipes), as shown in the following annotated image: 1) they have two terminal appendages (cerci) rather than three (males); and 2) their hind wings are rounded rather than “indented” (males).

Image used with permission from Bob Blakney.

Editor’s Notes

In my experience, female Unicorn Clubtail dragonflies are seen uncommonly. Sincere thanks to Bob Blakney for kindly granting permission to use his excellent photograph of this uncommon beauty for instructional purposes.

Bob’s photo was taken on 18 May 2012 at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge using a Canon EOS Rebel T2i digital camera and Tamron AF 18-270mm macro lens.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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Gray Petaltail (female terminal appendages)

September 18, 2018

For those species of dragonflies that do not display sexual dimorphism, males and females are nearly identical in appearance except for their terminal appendages. For example, male and female Gray Petaltail dragonflies (Tachopteryx thoreyi) are similar in appearance.

Two field markers can be used to identify female Gray Petaltails, as shown in the following annotated images: 1) they have two terminal appendages (cerci) rather than three (males); and 2) their hind wings are rounded rather than “indented” (males).

30 MAY 2018 | Northern Virginia | Gray Petaltail (female)

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

30 MAY 2018 | Northern Virginia | Gray Petaltail (female)

Related Resources

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Blue Dasher dragonfly (female)

August 23, 2018

A Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis) was spotted during a photowalk at Occoquan Regional Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female, as indicated by her coloration and terminal appendages.

This camera-shy girl was hiding her face from me behind the thin veil of her left forewing.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Calico Pennant dragonfly (female)

August 13, 2018

A Calico Pennant dragonfly (Celithemis elisa) was spotted at Painted Turtle Pond, Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA.

10 AUG 2018 | Occoquan Bay NWR | Calico Pennant (female)

This individual is a female, as indicated by her terminal appendages.

Adult flight period

The adult flight period  for Calico Pennant is from 11 May to 23 September (peaks in June-July), according to records for Northern Virginia maintained by Kevin Munroe, former manager at Huntley Meadows Park. In my experience, mid-August is past peak in Northern Virginia so I was happy to see a beautiful Calico female.

According to records for the Commonwealth of Virginia maintained by Dr. Steve Roble, a zoologist at the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Division of Natural Heritage, 26 April to 27 October is the adult flight period for Calico Pennant.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Blue-fronted Dancer damselflies (male, females)

August 7, 2018

Several Blue-fronted Dancer damselflies (Argia apicalis) were photographed along an unnamed small creek in Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

Male

The first individual is a male, as indicated by the pattern of coloration on his thorax and abdomen.

06 AUG 2018 | Fairfax County, VA | Blue-fronted Dancer (male)

Female

Female A. apicalis is polymorphic, including two morphs: tan; and blue.

06 AUG 2018 | Fairfax County, VA | Blue-fronted Dancer (female, tan)

Blue females can be differentiated from blue males by looking for the reproductive anatomy located on the underside of the posterior end of their abdomen.

06 AUG 2018 | Fairfax County, VA | Blue-fronted Dancer (female, blue)

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Black-shouldered Spinyleg (female)

July 24, 2018

A Black-shouldered Spinyleg dragonfly (Dromogomphus spinosus) was spotted along an unnamed small creek in Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female, as indicated by her terminal appendages.

19 JUl 2018 | Fairfax County, VA | Black-shouldered Spinyleg (female)

The tip of the dragonfly’s right hind wing appears to be slightly malformed; her ability to fly didn’t seem to be impaired by the malformation.

Look at the full-size version of the following photo. Notice the fuzzy schmutz on her face and legs. I speculate the dragonfly might have enjoyed either a butterfly or moth for her last meal.

19 JUl 2018 | Fairfax County, VA | Black-shouldered Spinyleg (female)

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Damnselflies

July 22, 2018

Did you notice what I did there? It’s not that I don’t like damselflies. I do. They don’t like me. I’m comfortable identifying some members of two of the three families of damselflies that occur in the mid-Atlantic states (USA), including Family Calopterygidae (Broad-winged Damselflies) and Family Lestidae (Spreadwings). Most members of the Family Coenagrionidae (Narrow-winged Damselflies), not so much.

I remember clearly the time when I was learning to identify dragonflies. I was more than a little confused at first. With persistence, the puzzle pieces started to fall into place sooner than I expected. Same story when I started learning to identify odonate exuviae. Never happened with damselflies, for whatever reason.

For example, here’s a photograph of a damselfly that I photographed recently at an unnamed small creek in Fairfax County, Virginia USA. I made a tentative identification after I edited the photo — I misidentified both the species and gender as an immature male Powdered Dancer damselfly (Argia moesta).

19 JUL 2018 | Fairfax County, VA | Blue-fronted Dancer (female)

As it turns out, this individual is a female Blue-fronted Dancer damselfly (Argia apicalis). Sincere thanks to my good friend Mike Boatwright, administrator of the Virginia Odonata Facebook group, for correcting my misidentification!

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

 

Sable Clubtail (terminal appendages)

July 18, 2018

Male and female Sable Clubtail dragonflies (Stenogomphurus rogersi) were spotted recently in Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

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”). The epiproct for Sable Clubtail is essentially a wide plate with two prongs.

08 JUN 2018 | Fairfax County, VA | Sable Clubtail (male)

08 JUN 2018 | Fairfax County, VA | Sable Clubtail (male)

The hind wings of male clubtail dragonflies are “indented” near the body, as shown in the preceding photograph. In contrast, the hind wings of female clubtails are rounded (shown below).

Female

Female dragonflies have a pair of cerci (superior appendages) that have little or no function. The abdomen of female Sable Clubtails is noticeably thicker than males of the same species.

05 JUL 2018 | Fairfax County, VA | Sable Clubtail (female)

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Needham’s Skimmer dragonfly (female)

July 6, 2018

A Needham’s Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula needhami) was spotted during a photowalk at Occoquan Regional Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

This individual is a female, as indicated by her terminal appendages.

Female Needham’s 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.

The dragonfly was backlighted by the Sun. These photographs would have been impossible without the use of fill flash. Both photos are strong contenders for my Odonart Portfolio.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Nature girl

June 6, 2018

The following photos show a female Gray Petaltail dragonfly (Tachopteryx thoreyi) that was perched on a fallen tree along a trail in the forest.

Some insect photographers prefer the subject posed on a natural background rather than man-made structures. I just shoot them wherever I find them, especially when the subject is as difficult to find as this one!

The first photo is the best one in the set, in the opinion of the author.

30 MAY 2018 | Northern Virginia | Gray Petaltail (female)

Whenever possible, I like to get as close to the subject as possible. Look closely at the lower-right corner of the next photo and you should notice the tip of the right forewing is clipped. That’s a big no-no for me and I wouldn’t publish the photo if it weren’t for the extraordinarily sharp detail visible in the full-size version of the image.

30 MAY 2018 | Northern Virginia | Gray Petaltail (female)

I was too close for good photo composition and a little too close for the comfort of the dragonfly — she flew to a nearby perch a few feet from the one shown above.

30 MAY 2018 | Northern Virginia | Gray Petaltail (female)

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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