Posts Tagged ‘grooming’

Urban Heat Island

December 10, 2017

On 01 December 2017 I didn’t see any Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) during a photowalk along Easy Road at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA.

In contrast, I saw several Autumn Meadowhawks perched on man-made structures such as a concrete curb in the blacktop parking lot at the refuge. All of the dragonflies were perched on vertical surfaces that received more direct insolation than horizontal surfaces. The parking area seems to be an urban heat island microclimate that exists within a larger natural area.

Male 1

The first individual is a male, as indicated by his terminal appendages. Although the male is missing one of four wings, he was able to fly well enough to move to three different perches along the curb.

01 DEC 2017 | Occoquan Bay NWR | Autumn Meadowhawk (male, injured)

01 DEC 2017 | Occoquan Bay NWR | Autumn Meadowhawk (male, injured)

01 DEC 2017 | Occoquan Bay NWR | Autumn Meadowhawk (male, injured)

Male 2

The next male has a full set of four wings; his wings are tattered slightly, as expected toward the end of dragonfly season.

The last photo shows the male grooming and excreting at the same time.

Related Resources

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (mating pairs)

January 30, 2017

While we’re doing that mating pairs of insects thing, let’s continue the theme with photos of two mating pairs of Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) spotted near a vernal pool at Huntley Meadows Park (HMP). Both pairs are “in wheel.”

Couple No. 1

The male is on the upper-right; the female on the lower-left. Notice the male dragonfly is using his front legs to groom his eyes and face, while mating. Hey, you want to look good when hooking up!

A mating pair of Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is "in wheel."

13 NOV 2016 | HMP | Autumn Meadowhawk (mating pair, “in wheel“)

The photo is cropped slightly in order to remove a few distracting elements near the edges of the photo. In my opinion, nothing says “Autumn Meadowhawk” quite like a photo showing the dragonflies perching on autumn-colored vegetation.

Couple No. 2

The male is on top; the female on the bottom.

A mating pair of Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is "in wheel."

13 NOV 2016 | HMP | Autumn Meadowhawk (mating pair, “in wheel“)

The preceding photo is full-frame (4,000 x 3,000 pixels), giving the viewer a sense of how close I was to the dragonflies. This image — showing the dragonflies perching on tree bark — complements the coloration of the Autumn Meadowhawks but doesn’t convey the same sense of the season as the first photo.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Great Spreadwing damselfly (male, grooming)

December 20, 2016

Great Spreadwing damselfly (Archilestes grandis) was spotted in the forest near a vernal pool at Huntley Meadows Park. This individual is the same male featured in my last blog post.

Before grooming

Look closely at the full-size version of the following photo. Notice the schmutz on the male damselfly’s abdomen, located near the right cercus of his terminal appendages.

11:09:41 a.m. EST

Grooming

A while later the male damselfly contorted himself into a position that looked like he was doing gymnastics. As it turns out, he was rubbing the tip of his abdomen against his thorax and legs in order to remove the schmutz.

11:31:09 a.m. EST

11:31:13 a.m. EST

11:31:18 a.m. EST

After grooming

Look closely at the full-size version of the following photo. Notice the schmutz on the male damselfly’s abdomen is gone. Soon afterward, the male flew in the direction of the vernal pool, presumably to look for female mates.

11:32:54 a.m. EST

Related Resource: Great Spreadwing damselflies (males, gymnasts) is a blog post by Walter Sanford that includes an embedded video showing similar grooming behaviors. The video features two segments: segment one shows the male damselfly grooming his legs; segment two shows the male grooming his wings by rubbing his abdomen against them.

Editor’s Note: If you check the EXIF for all five photos, then you will see the time stamp is one hour later than the times shown above. 06 November was the first time I used my camera since the end of Daylight Saving Time (at 2:00 a.m. the same day) — I forgot to reset the time in-camera!

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Great Spreadwing damselflies (males, gymnasts)

November 9, 2015

The following photos show a Great Spreadwing damselfly (Archilestes grandis) spotted on 08 October 2015, two days after the first Great Spreadwing was observed at a small permanent pond in a remote location at Huntley Meadows Park (HMP). This individual is a male, nicknamed “Mr. Magoo” because of the prominent dark spots in his eyes.

A Great Spreadwing damselfly (Archilestes grandis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male, nicknamed "Mr. Magoo."

08 OCT 2015 | HMP | Great Spreadwing (male, nicknamed “Mr. Magoo”)

I’m not sure what “Mr. Magoo” was doing in the preceding photo. A novice odonate hunter might be fooled into thinking the damselfly is a female, ovipositing in the grass stem (endophytic oviposition). I speculate the young male was “test-driving” his terminal appendages, with the grass stem serving as a simulation of the neck of a female.

A Great Spreadwing damselfly (Archilestes grandis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male, nicknamed "Mr. Magoo."

08 OCT 2015 | HMP | Great Spreadwing (male, nicknamed “Mr. Magoo”)

After two seasons of field observation of Great Spreadwing damselflies, I have noticed several males flexing their abdomen like gymnasts. Are they simply stretching, or is this behavior related to a pre-/post-mating ritual? It’s impossible to know for certain, but I’m sure it’s amusing to watch! In particular, notice the unusual “two-step dance” performed by the male featured in the following video.

04 NOV 2015 | HMP | Great Spreadwing (male)

I’m a fairly accomplished photographer, he said, not too modestly. In contrast, my skills as a videographer are relatively rudimentary as evidenced by the preceding video. My movies usually turn out better when I plan the shoot and use a tripod; in this case, the video clips were shot spontaneously (therefore hand-held) when an opportunity presented itself.

One of my mantras of wildlife photography/videography is “get a shot, any shot; refine the shot.” I wish the preceding video had turned out better. Although I was able to shoot a couple of video clips of this unusual gymnastic routine, there was no opportunity to refine the shots. Oh well, maybe next year!

Related Resources:

Editor’s Note: According to Ed Lam, author and illustrator of Damselflies of the Northeast, the damselfly featured in the video is grooming itself.

He appears to be grooming in the video. They can’t reach down to knock off debris, spiderwebs, etc. but they can rub their legs together or against an object. Similarly, the abdomen seems to be contacting the wings. Sometimes you see this behavior after they have been handled and released if they don’t immediately fly away. Source Credit: Ed Lam, Northeast Odonata Facebook group.

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Autumn Meadowhawks (mating pairs)

November 7, 2015

The following photos, showing several mating pairs of Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum), were taken near a vernal pool at Huntley Meadows Park (HMP). All pairs are shown in the “mating wheel.”

It’s fairly simple and straightforward to identify the male- and female members of a mating pair of dragonflies. 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.

Mating Pair No. 2

Don’t be confused — the first photo is actually the second mating pair spotted on 15 October 2015.

A mating pair of Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is shown in wheel.

15 OCT 2015 | HMP | Autumn Meadowhawks (mating pair, in wheel)

Mating Pair No. 1

A mating pair of Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is shown in wheel.

15 OCT 2015 | HMP | Autumn Meadowhawks (mating pair, in wheel)

Another view of the same mating pair…

A mating pair of Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is shown in wheel.

15 OCT 2015 | HMP | Autumn Meadowhawks (mating pair, in wheel)

Mating Pair No. 3

A mating pair of Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is shown in wheel.

21 OCT 2015 | HMP | Autumn Meadowhawks (mating pair, in wheel)

The last photo should be captioned: “Mating makes me itch!” Actually, the male dragonfly is using its legs to groom his eyes and face, while mating. Hey, you want to look good when hooking up!

A mating pair of Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is shown in wheel.

21 OCT 2015 | HMP | Autumn Meadowhawks (mating pair, in wheel)

Related Resource: Posts tagged “grooming” (see videos).

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Painted Skimmer dragonfly (female, breathing and grooming)

June 2, 2015

The following movie features a Painted Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula semifasciata) spotted on 20 May 2015 during a photowalk alongside the wetlands at Huntley Meadows Park. This individual is a female, as indicated by its terminal appendages.

Dragonflies breathe through small holes in the underside of their thorax and abdomen called “spiracles.” Notice the dragonfly’s thorax and abdomen expanding and contracting as she inhales and exhales.

The female appears to be grooming while perching on vegetation, using her front legs to wipe her eyes and face. The author has observed many species of dragonflies engaged in similar behavior.

Tech Tips: The preceding movie looks better viewed in full-screen mode.

The video clips used to create this movie were shot on a very windy day. I used a tripod for my camera and centered the subject in each clip, but the wind caused the dragonfly to drift off-center at times. Not that I’m a perfectionist or anything.

Related Rescources:

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (female, breathing and grooming)

December 28, 2014

The following video features an Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum vicinum) spotted on 15 November 2013 during a photowalk along the boardwalk in the hemi-marsh at Huntley Meadows Park. This individual is a female, as indicated by its coloration and terminal appendages.

Dragonflies breathe through small holes in the underside of their thorax and abdomen called “spiracles.” Notice the dragonfly’s thorax and abdomen expanding and contracting as she inhales and exhales.

The female appears to be grooming while perching on the warm surface of the boardwalk, using her front legs to wipe her eyes and face. The author has observed many species of dragonflies engaged in similar behavior.

Tech Tip: The preceding video looks better viewed in full-screen mode.

Related Rescources:

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Windshield wipers

November 10, 2013

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) are the …

Latest species to fly in northern parts of range, usually until first heavy frosts. Able to maintain activity by constant basking in sun. Source Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Locations 10703-10704). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

The following female was spotted at Huntley Meadows Park on 06 November 2013. She appears to be grooming while perching on the warm surface of the boardwalk, using her front legs to wipe her eyes and face.

Related Resources: Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (female, breathing and grooming), featuring an embedded YouTube video (0:30). See also Dragonfly grooming, a YouTube video (2:26) featuring a male Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis).

Copyright © 2013 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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