Posts Tagged ‘heteromorph’

Aurora Damsel (mating pair, in heart)

June 14, 2019

The mating pair of Aurora Damsel (Chromagrion conditum) shown in the following photograph is “in wheel,” in which the male uses “claspers” (terminal appendages) at the end of his abdomen to hold the female by her neck/thorax while they are joined at their abdomens. The male — blue, yellow, and black in color — is on top; the female — yellow and black in color — is on the bottom.

The copulatory, or wheel, position is unique to the Odonata, as is the distant separation of the male’s genital opening and copulatory organs. Source Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Locations 377-378). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

The wheel position is sometimes referred to as “in heart” when damselflies mate.

04 JUN 2019 | PNC. William County, VA | Aurora Damsel (mating pair)

Female C. conditum is polymorphic, including two morphs: an andromorph with blue coloration similar to male; or a heteromorph with an entirely yellow thorax, as shown above.

It’s helpful to take photos of mating pairs of damselflies, especially “in wheel,” since males and females of the same species can look quite different.

Taxonomy

C. conditum is a monotypic genus in the Family Coenagrionidae (Narrow-winged Damselflies).

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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Blue-fronted Dancers (male, female)

March 22, 2019

Male

A Blue-fronted Dancer damselfly (Argia apicalis) was spotted near Mulligan Pond at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

This individual is a male, as indicated by the pattern of blue coloration on his thorax and abdomen, plus the blue coloration on abdominal segments eight through 10 (S8-10).

25 SEP 2016 | Jackson Miles Abbott WR | Blue-fronted Dancer (male)

Female

Several Blue-fronted Dancers were spotted during a photowalk along Accotink Creek/Great Blue Heron Trail at Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge (ABWR), Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

The first individual is a female, as indicated by two field marks.

Eyes brown, darker above; lack of blue in eyes in andromorph good distinction from male. Source Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Locations 3451-3452). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

Female Blue-fronted Dancers are polymorphicandromorph females are blue like males; heteromorph females are brown-green. Andromorph females tend to be a lighter shade of blue than males of the same species.

This individual is a blue andromorph. Regardless of the color morph…

females never have blue on the last abdominal segments (S8-10). Source Credit: Michael Boatwright, founder and administrator of the Virginia Odonata Facebook group.

02 AUG 2016 | ABWR | Blue-fronted Dancer (female)

More males

Two male Blue-fronted Dancers were spotted at Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge.

02 AUG 2016 | ABWR | Blue-fronted Dancer (male)

02 AUG 2016 | ABWR | Blue-fronted Dancer (male)

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Unambiguously Sympetrum ambiguum

November 10, 2017

Two Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum ambiguum) were spotted during a photowalk along Charlie Road at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA. Although Blue-faced Meadowhawk is on the species list of dragonflies and damselflies at Occoquan Bay NWR, this is the first time I have seen Sympetrum ambiguum at the refuge.

Male

This first individual is a male, as indicated by his terminal appendages.

19 OCT 2017 | OBNWR | Blue-faced Meadowhawk (male)

This guy was skittish. I was able to take one photo before he flew toward the tree canopy. The preceding photograph is what my good friend Mike Boatwright calls a “record shot,” that is, a photograph that records (verifies) my sighting of the male Sympetrum ambiguum. The photo was cropped slightly for improved composition.

Female

The last individual is a female heteromorph, as indicated by her tan coloration and terminal appendages.

The preceding photograph is my “record shot” of the female. I worked the shot…

…until I found the best viewpoint, shown below.

The first and last photos of the female were cropped slightly for improved composition; the second photo is uncropped.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Time to mate (Fall 2017)

October 11, 2017

I speculate Blue-faced Meadowhawk is an arboreal species of dragonfly that returns to the ground/water when it’s time to mate.

A mating pair of Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum ambiguum) was spotted near a drainage ditch alongside a vernal pool at a remote location in Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is “in wheel“: the male is on top; the female on the bottom. The female is a heteromorph, as indicated by her tan coloration.

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.

Springtime Darner (terminal appendages)

September 11, 2017

Male and female Springtime Darner dragonflies (Basiaeschna janata) are colored similarly sometimes. Terminal appendages can be used to identify gender.

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 Springtime Darner was spotted along a mid-size rocky stream located at Hemlock Overlook Regional Park (HORP), Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

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

Female

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

Female Springtime Darners are polymorphic: the spots on their abdomen are either blue (andromorphic) or green (heteromorphic); this female — spotted at a remote location in Huntley Meadows Park (HMP) — is a blue andromorph.

15 APR 2016 | HMP | Springtime Darner (female, blue andromorph)

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

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Powdered Dancer (males, female)

August 20, 2017

A Powdered Dancer damselfly (Argia moesta) was spotted during a photowalk along a mid-size rocky stream in Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male, as indicated by his terminal appendages. There is a whitish-blue morph female Powdered Dancer, therefore the male’s whitish-blue coloration is insufficient to identify its gender.

21 JUN 2017 | Fairfax County, VA | Powdered Dancer (male)

A week later, a mating pair of Powdered Dancers was spotted along the Potomac River at Riverbend Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is “in tandem“: the male is on the upper-left; the female on the lower-right.

28 JUN 2017 | Riverbend Park | Powdered Dancers (mating pair, in tandem)

The male is “contact guarding” the female as the pair flies “in tandem” to egg-laying sites where the female uses her ovipositor to insert eggs into vegetation (endophytic oviposition).

It’s helpful to take photos of mating pairs of damselflies, especially “in tandem,” since males and females of the same species can look quite different.

Female Powdered Dancers are polymorphic, including a whitish-blue andromorph and a brown heteromorph. The brown morph, shown in this pair, is more common than whitish-blue.

28 JUN 2017 | Riverbend Park | Powdered Dancers (mating pair, in tandem)

Did you notice the male Stream Bluet damselfly (Enallagma exsulans) perching near the Powdered Dancers? Thanks to Karen Kearney and Michael Boatwright, members of the Virginia Odonata Facebook group, for confirming my tentative identification of the Stream Bluet.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Blue-fronted Dancer (male, female)

August 18, 2017

Many Blue-fronted Dancer damselflies (Argia apicalis) were spotted along Bull Run, Hemlock Overlook Regional Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

Male

The first individual is a male, as indicated by his terminal appendages.

21 JUN 2017 | Fairfax County, VA | Blue-fronted Dancer (male)

There is a blue morph female Blue-fronted Dancer, therefore the male’s blue coloration is insufficient to identify its gender.

21 JUN 2017 | Fairfax County, VA | Blue-fronted Dancer (male)

Female

Female Blue-fronted Dancers are polymorphic, including a blue andromorph and a brown heteromorph, shown below. Thanks to Ken Larsen, member of the Virginia Odonata Facebook group, for help in identifying this individual.

21 JUN 2017 | Fairfax County, VA | Blue-fronted Dancer (heteromorph female)

Related Resources:

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Blue-faced Meadowhawks (mating pair)

March 27, 2017

A mating pair of Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum ambiguum) was spotted near a vernal pool at Huntley Meadows Park (HMP). This pair is “in wheel“: the male is on the upper-right; the female on the lower-left.

16 OCT 2016 | HMP | Blue-faced Meadowhawk (mating pair, “in wheel“)

The female is a heteromorph, as indicated by her tan coloration.

16 OCT 2016 | HMP | Blue-faced Meadowhawk (mating pair, “in wheel“)

There were noticeably fewer Blue-faced Meadowhawks at this location than in past years. It’s reassuring to see this pair doing their part to ensure perpetuation of the species.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Rambur’s Forktail damselfly (female)

December 16, 2016

A Rambur’s Forktail damselfly (Ischnura ramburii) was spotted at Mason Neck West Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is an immature heteromorph female, as indicated by the reddish-orange coloration of her thorax and abdominal segments one and two (S1-2), and reddish-orange postocular spots; her coloration will become duller as she matures. Andromorph females are colored like males.

A Rambur's Forktail damselfly (Ischnura ramburii) spotted at Mason Neck West Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is an immature heteromorph female.

03 OCT 2016 | Mason Neck West Park | Rambur’s Forktail (female)

This sighting was another reminder of one of many Walterisms: Don’t be dismissive! Huh? Male Rambur’s Forktail damselflies look similar to male Eastern Forktail damselflies (Ischnura verticalis). Eastern Forktails are relatively common, especially during spring and early-summer. Common. That’s the key word. When I noticed several male Rambur’s Forktails at the water retention pond I thought, “Oh, Eastern Forktails. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.” Fortunately I spotted the immature heteromorph female and realized the error of my ways.

I’ll say it again: Don’t be dismissive — that kind of thinking can result in missed opportunities for wildlife photographers. I never expected to see Rambur’s Forktails at Mason Neck West Park and my preconceptions almost caused me to miss a golden opportunity to see a relatively uncommon damselfly.

Related Resources: Excellent digital scans created by Gayle and Jeanelle Strickland. Click on the button labeled “Download file” in order to view full-size version of the graphics.

  • Ischnura ramburii female #2 | heteromorph female | JPG
  • Ischnura ramburii female #8 | andromorph female | JPG
  • Ischnura ramburii male #2 | male | JPG

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Blue-faced Meadowhawk mating frenzy

December 8, 2016

Old Colchester Park and Preserve (OCPP), Fairfax County, Virginia USA is one of a few places in Northern Virginia where Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum ambiguum) is known to occur. OCPP is located near Mason Neck West Park.

More than ten mating pairs of Blue-faced Meadowhawks were spotted at a small vernal pool in the park; the pool was almost completely dry on the day of my visit.

Andromorph females

Some species of dragonflies, such as Blue-faced Meadowhawk, display sexual dimorphism; females are polymorphic for a smaller subset of those species. Andromorph females are male-like in color; heteromorph females are duller in color than males.

Andromorph female Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies, like the ones shown below, are less common than heteromorph females. Andromorphs have a red abdomen with black rings, like male Blue-faced Meadowhawks; unlike males, most female faces are tan and their terminal appendages look different than male appendages.

No. 1

A mating pair of Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum ambiguum) spotted at Old Colchester Park and Preserve, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is "in wheel." The female is an andromorph.

27 SEP 2016 | OCPP | Blue-faced Meadowhawk (mating pair, “in wheel“)

No. 2

A mating pair of Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum ambiguum) spotted at Old Colchester Park and Preserve, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is "in wheel." The female is an andromorph.

27 SEP 2016 | OCPP | Blue-faced Meadowhawk (mating pair, “in wheel“)

No. 3

A mating pair of Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum ambiguum) spotted at Old Colchester Park and Preserve, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is "in wheel." The female is an andromorph.

27 SEP 2016 | OCPP | Blue-faced Meadowhawk (mating pair, “in wheel“)

Heteromorph females

The following photos show heteromorph female Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies. Heteromorphs have a tan abdomen with black rings.

No. 4

A mating pair of Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum ambiguum) spotted at Old Colchester Park and Preserve, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is "in wheel." The female is a heteromorph.

27 SEP 2016 | OCPP | Blue-faced Meadowhawk (mating pair, “in wheel“)

No. 5

A mating pair of Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum ambiguum) spotted at Old Colchester Park and Preserve, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is "in wheel." The female is a heteromorph.

27 SEP 2016 | OCPP | Blue-faced Meadowhawk (mating pair, “in wheel“)

No. 6

A mating pair of Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum ambiguum) spotted at Old Colchester Park and Preserve, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is "in wheel." The female is a heteromorph.

27 SEP 2016 | OCPP | Blue-faced Meadowhawk (mating pair, “in wheel“)

No. 7

A mating pair of Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum ambiguum) spotted at Old Colchester Park and Preserve, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is "in wheel." The female is a heteromorph.

27 SEP 2016 | OCPP | Blue-faced Meadowhawk (mating pair, “in wheel“)

No. 8

A mating pair of Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum ambiguum) spotted at Old Colchester Park and Preserve, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is "in wheel." The female is a heteromorph.

27 SEP 2016 | OCPP | Blue-faced Meadowhawk (mating pair, “in wheel“)

No. 9

A mating pair of Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum ambiguum) spotted at Old Colchester Park and Preserve, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is "in wheel." The female is a heteromorph.

27 SEP 2016 | OCPP | Blue-faced Meadowhawk (mating pair, “in wheel“)

No. 10

A mating pair of Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum ambiguum) spotted at Old Colchester Park and Preserve, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is "in wheel." The female is a heteromorph.

27 SEP 2016 | OCPP | Blue-faced Meadowhawk (mating pair, “in wheel“)

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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