Posts Tagged ‘female’

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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Che bella faccia!

June 4, 2018

The title means “What a beautiful face!” in Italian.

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

Just look at her — isn’t she beautiful? Rhetorical question. I’m especially fond of the black “T” shape, technically known as the anteclypeus, located between the postclypeus and labrum. Huh?

Zoom in on the full-size version of the preceding photo. Notice her face is comprised of several sections. From top-to-bottom, the sections are as follows: frons (white); postclypeus (white); anteclypeus (black); labrum (white with a black stripe down the middle).

Related Resources

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Working the shot

June 2, 2018

On a day when the weather was less than cooperative, I was fortunate to see and photograph several Gray Petaltail dragonflies (Tachopteryx thoreyi).

The following gallery features photos of an extraordinarily cooperative female who allowed me to take some frame-filling shots. Almost every photo in this set is full-frame, that is, uncropped. The first photo was cropped slightly in order to improve the composition around the edges of the photo.

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

This individual is the last one I photographed. I hadn’t gotten a good dorsal shot of several other Gray Petaltail that posed for me, so I approached this female slowly until I was looking almost straight down on her.

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

Then I worked my way around her slowly

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

until I had a good dorso-lateral shot, including a little better view of her face.

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

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Gray Petaltail dragonfly (female)

May 31, 2018

Eureka! I found one of my “Great White Whale” dragonfly species after years of fruitless searching.

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

A Gray Petaltail dragonfly (Tachopteryx thoreyi) was spotted at a forested seep, shown below. This individual is a female, as indicated by her rounded hind wings and terminal appendages. Thanks to Mike Boatwright for verifying my tentative identification of the gender.

23 MAY 2018 | Northern Virginia | forested seep

Gray Petaltail is classified as an uncommon species of odonate. It is a prized addition to my “life list” of dragonflies!

The following map shows all official records for Gray Petaltail in the United States of America.

DSA Distribution Viewer | Gray Petaltail

Source Credit: Abbott, J.C. 2006-2018. OdonataCentral: An online resource for the distribution and identification of Odonata. Available at http://www.odonatacentral.org. (Accessed: June 13, 2018).

Key: blue dots = Dot Map Project; green dots = Accepted records; yellow dots = Pending records.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Seamless transition

May 27, 2018

A seamless transition from the spring species of odonates to the summer species is slowly but surely underway.

Spangled Skimmer (Libellula cyanea) is a summer species that starts to appear in Northern Virginia in late spring. The following individual — spotted at Hidden Pond during a photowalk at Meadowood Recreation Area (MRA), Fairfax County, Virginia USA — is a teneral female, as indicated by her tenuous wings and terminal appendages.

21 MAY 2018 | MRA | Spangled Skimmer (teneral female)

Female Spangled 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.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Common Whitetail dragonfly (female)

May 5, 2018

Common Whitetail dragonflies (Plathemis lydia) are like bad party guests: they are among the first to arrive and last to leave. Nonetheless, it was good to see one on a day when almost no adult odonate species were observed.

30 APR 2018 | Huntley Meadows Park | Common Whitetail (female)

A Common Whitetail was spotted perching on a man-made brush pile near a vernal pool at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female, as indicated by her terminal appendages and pattern of wing spots.

30 APR 2018 | Huntley Meadows Park | Common Whitetail (female)

The “schmutz” that appears at the tip of her abdomen is probably excrement. Hey, schmutz happens!

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Blue Corporal (teneral females)

May 1, 2018

Lots of Blue Corporal dragonflies (Ladona deplanata) were spotted near Painted Turtle Pond at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA. This is the first time the author has observed Blue Corporal at Painted Turtle Pond.

Both individuals featured in this post are teneral females, as indicated by their tenuous wings and terminal appendages.

Female 1

The first female was spotted perching on vegetation near the shoreline of Painted Turtle Pond. Some of the ground cover is charred from a recent controlled burn at Occoquan Bay NWR.

The common name for Blue Corporal is derived from two cream-colored stripes that appear on the front of the thorax, similar to the two stripes that signify the rank of corporal in the military.

Notice the abdomen of this female seems to be bent slightly to the right (facing forward). This malformation probably occurred during emergence.

Female 2

The last female was spotted perching on the gravel road leading to Painted Turtle Pond. The purple rock located in the upper-right corner of the photo might contain the mineral fluorite.

Like many teneral dragonflies, if not most, this individual was quite skittish. I followed the female to two locations before calling the photowalk a wrap.

Related Resource: Blue Corporal (teneral males).

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Common Baskettail (teneral female)

April 29, 2018

A Common Baskettail dragonfly (Epitheca cynosura) was spotted near Painted Turtle Pond during a photowalk at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA.

This individual is a teneral female, as indicated by her tenuous wings and relatively short, straight terminal appendages.

Spring 2018 has been slow to spring in the mid-Atlantic USA, as evidenced by the fact that the first Common Baskettails were spotted at Painted Turtle Pond beginning in mid-April 2017.

Related Resources

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Swift River Cruiser exuvia

April 25, 2018

A late-stage emergent teneral female Swift River Cruiser dragonfly (Macromia illinoiensis) was spotted on 27 May 2017 along the Potomac River at Riverbend Park in Fairfax County, Virginia USA. The exuvia was collected, with permission from park staff, after the female flew away from the place where she metamorphosed from a nymph to an adult.

No. 1 | 27 MAY 2017 | Riverbend Park | Swift River Cruiser (female)

The next image is a composite of 35 photos. The specimen is perfectly in focus from head-to-tail, including the legs.

The last image is a composite of eight photos. The focus point for each photo in the set is limited to the body only. Surprisingly, all six legs are acceptably in focus except for the tip of the left hind leg.

The official early-date for Swift River Cruiser dragonfly is 08 May in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Since the early-date for Royal River Cruiser dragonfly (Macromia taeniolata) is 15 May, the exuvia helps to confirm the identity of the adult is Swift River Cruiser. 10 October is the late-date for both species.

Tech Tips

Photo No. 1 was taken using my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 superzoom bridge camera plus Canon 580EX Speedlite, my go-to kit for photowalking.

The following equipment was used to shoot Photo No. 2 and 3: Canon EOS 5D Mark II digital camera, in manual mode; Kenko 20mm macro automatic extension tubeCanon EF100mm f/2.8L Macro lens (set for manual focus); Canon MT-26EX-RT Macro Twin Lite set for “Master” mode, and Canon 580 EX- and Canon 580EX II Speedlites set for “Slave” mode.

Photo No. 2-3 are focus-stacked composite images created using Adobe Photoshop CC 2017.

Related Resource: Swift River Cruiser (emergent female).

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Post update: Phanogomphus lividus exuvia

April 13, 2018

Phanogomphus lividus exuvia, my identification guide for Ashy Clubtail exuviae, was updated to feature two new annotated high-magnification macro composite images.

  • Photo No. 1: The specimen was rehydrated/relaxed in order to reposition the front legs for an unobstructed view of the prementum, especially the median lobe of the labium.
  • Photo No. 2: A close-up view of the anal pyramid (terminal appendages) verified the “superior caudal appendage (epiproct) is as long as inferiors (paraprocts).”

The first image is a composite of six photos that shows a ventral view of the prementum.

Editor’s Note: Sincere thanks to Sue and John Gregoire for guiding me to the location of the median lobe.

The last image is a composite of 15 photos that shows a dorsal view of the abdomen; the inset image is a selection from a composite of 10 photos that shows a ventral view of the anal pyramid.

No. 2 | Ashy Clubtail (Phanogomphus lividus) | exuvia (anal pyramid)

The Backstory

An Ashy Clubtail dragonfly (Phanogomphus lividusnymph was collected by Bob Perkins. (The date and location where the specimen was collected are unknown.) The nymph was reared in captivity until it emerged on 21 March 2017 and metamorphosed into an adult female. This specimen is the exuvia from the nymph. P. lividus is a member of the Family Gomphidae (Clubtails).

Tech Tips

The following equipment was used to shoot all of the photos for the preceding composite images: Canon EOS 5D Mark II digital camera, in manual mode; Canon MP-E 65mm Macro lens (manual focus only, set for f/8 at either 2x or ~3x magnification); Canon MT-26EX-RT Macro Twin Lite set for “Master” mode; and Canon 580 EX- and Canon 580EX II Speedlites in “Slave” mode.

Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 was used to create the composite image by “round-tripping” with Apple Aperture.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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