Posts Tagged ‘in tandem’

Autumn Meadowhawks (mating pairs, in tandem)

November 8, 2017

Two mating pairs of Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) were photographed at Hidden Pond, Meadowood Recreation Area (MRA), Fairfax County, Virginia USA. Both pairs are “in tandem.”

The first pair is perching on the small wooden dock at Hidden Pond: the male is on the upper-right; the female is on the lower-left.

27 OCT 2017 | MRA | Autumn Meadowhawk (mating pair, “in tandem“)

The last pair is perching on an American sweetgum tree (Liquidambar styraciflua) growing alongside the dock. I love the way the fall coloration of the tree leaves complements the coloration of the dragonflies! The male is on the upper-left; the female is on the lower-right.

27 OCT 2017 | MRA | Autumn Meadowhawk (mating pair, “in tandem“)

Tech Tips

The photographs in this gallery were taken using my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150 superzoom digital camera set for ~24x zoom (focal length of 600mm, 35mm equivalent), and Canon 580EX Speedlite external flash (manual mode).

In order to reduce “camera shake,” the camera was set for shutter priority mode. Using the reciprocal rule, the shutter speed was set for 1/800s. The ISO was set for “100.” An inexpensive Sunpak 6700M aluminum monopod was used for added stability.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (mating pairs)

November 4, 2017

This blog post features more photos taken using my Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera, Fujinon XF55-200mm zoom lens, and a Fujifilm MCEX-11 extension tube. The camera was set for manual focus in order to use focus peaking; back-button focusing was used to focus automatically.

In wheel

ISO 640 | 200mm (~300mm, 35mm equivalent) | f/11 | 1/500s | 0.33 ev

Two of many mating pairs of Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) were photographed on 27 October 2017 at Hidden Pond, Meadowood Recreation Area, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. Both pairs are “in wheel“: the male is on top; the female is on the bottom.

ISO 800 | 200mm (~300mm, 35mm equivalent) | f/18 | 1/500s | 0 ev

In tandem

The last mating pair is “in tandem“: the male is on the upper-right; the female is on the lower-left.

ISO 800 | 200mm (~300mm, 35mm equivalent) | f/16 | 1/500s | 0 ev

After copulation, Autumn Meadowhawks engage in a form of guarding behavior known as “contact guarding,” in which the male and female fly “in tandem” to egg-laying sites. Contact guarding is used by some species of odonates to prevent aggressive males from hijacking the female.

Related Resource: Adding an 11mm extension tube, a blog post by Walter Sanford.

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.

More Big Bluet damselflies

December 24, 2016

More Big Bluet damselflies (Enallagma durum) were spotted in July 2016 during two photowalks along the Potomac River at Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve (DMWP).

More males

These individuals are males, as indicated by their blue and black coloration and by their terminal appendages.

Mating pair

The mating pair of Big Bluet damselflies 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 and black in color, is on top; the female, green 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. In this case, the heart shape is deformed slightly.

A mating pair of Big Bluet damselflies (Enallagma durum) spotted at Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is "in heart."

19 JUL 2016 | DMWP | Big Bluet (mating pair, “in tandem”)

The same pair is “in tandem” a while later: the male is on the right; the female is on the left. The male is engaged in “contact guarding,” in which the male and female fly “in tandem” to egg-laying sites. Contact guarding is used by some species of odonates to prevent aggressive males from hijacking the female.

A mating pair of Big Bluet damselflies (Enallagma durum) spotted at Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is "in tandem."

19 JUL 2016 | DMWP | Big Bluet (mating pair, “in tandem”)

Look closely at the underside of the female’s abdomen, near the tip. Notice the ovipositor that she uses 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.

Sidebar: Scientific Classification of Damselflies

The following concise explanation of the scientific classification of damselflies is provided to help the reader understand where the genus Enallagma (American Bluets) fits into the bigger picture of the Order OdonataSuborder Zygoptera (Damselflies).

There are five families of damselflies in the United States of America, although only three families occur in the mid-Atlantic USA: Broad-winged damselflies; Narrow-winged damselflies (a.k.a., Pond Damselflies); and Spreadwing damselflies.

Family Calopterygidae is comprised of two genera.

Family Coenagrionidae is comprised of 14 genera. Three genera are common in Northern Virginia: Argia (Dancers); Enallagma (American Bluets); and Ischnura (Forktails).

Family Lestidae is comprised of two genera.

  • Archilestes (e.g., Great Spreadwing)
  • Lestes (e.g., Slender Spreadwing, Southern Spreadwing, Swamp Spreadwing)

There are relatively few genera of Broad-winged Damselflies and Spreadwing Damselflies. In contrast, there are many more genera and species of Narrow-winged Damselflies — more species, including many that look similar, makes this family the most challenging to learn!

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.

  • Enallagma durum male #4 | male | JPG
  • Enallagma durum female #2 | female | JPG

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Dusky Dancer damselflies (mating pair)

September 12, 2016

A mating pair of Dusky Dancer damselflies (Argia translata) was spotted along Pope’s Head Creek at Chapel Road Park. Dusky Dancer is a new species on my life list of odonates.

This pair is “in tandem“: the male is on the upper-right; the female is on the lower-left.

A mating pair of Dusky Dancer damselflies (Argia translata) spotted along Pope's Head Creek at Chapel Road Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is "in tandem."

29 AUG 2016 | Chapel Road Park | Dusky Dancer (mating pair)

The male is on the upper-left in the following photo; the female is on the lower-right. The male is engaged in “contact guarding,” in which the male and female fly “in tandem” to egg-laying sites. The female is ovipositing in a partially submerged leaf.

A mating pair of Dusky Dancer damselflies (Argia translata) spotted along Pope's Head Creek at Chapel Road Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is "in tandem."

29 AUG 2016 | Chapel Road Park | Dusky Dancer (mating pair)

Related Resource: A. translata male (Dusky Dancer) [JPG] [digital scan].

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Powdered Dancer damselflies (mating pairs)

September 10, 2016

Two mating pairs of Powdered Dancer damselflies (Argia moesta) were spotted during a photowalk along Pope’s Head Creek at Chapel Road Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

The first mating pair is “in heart“: the male is on top; the female is on the bottom.

A mating pair of Powdered Dancer damselflies (Argia moesta) spotted along Pope's Head Creek at Chapel Road Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is "in heart."

29 AUG 2016 | Chapel Road Park | Powdered Dancer (mating pair)

Female Powdered Dancers are polymorphic; the female in the preceding mating pair is the blue morph that looks somewhat similar to males of the same species.

The last mating pair of Powdered Dancers was spotted “in tandem“: the male is on the upper-left; the female is on the lower-right. The female in the following mating pair is the tan morph.

A mating pair of Powdered Dancer damselflies (Argia moesta) spotted along Pope's Head Creek at Chapel Road Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is "in tandem."

29 AUG 2016 | Chapel Road Park | Powdered Dancer (mating pair)

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Slender Spreadwing damselflies (mating pair)

July 30, 2016

The Backstory: A cohort of emergent/teneral Slender Spreadwing damselflies (Lestes rectangularis) was discovered during late-May and early-June 2016 at a vernal pool located in Huntley Meadows Park (HMP). I have seen/photographed many female Slender Spreadwings in the past, but only one male. For the next few weeks, I focused upon finding and photographing mostly males from the cohort.

Mating Pair

A mating pair of Slender Spreadwing damselflies was spotted in a meadow located near a vernal pool from which the pair probably emerged. This pair is “in heart.”

A mating pair of Slender Spreadwing damselflies (Lestes rectangularis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is "in heart."

24 JUN 2016 | HMP | Slender Spreadwing (mating pair, “in heart“)

All dragonflies and damselflies have a 10-segmented abdomen, numbered from front to back: male damselfly secondary genitalia, called hamules, are located in segments two and three (S2 and S3); female genitalia in segment eight (S8). Damselflies form the mating wheel (also known as the mating heart) in order for their genitalia to connect during copulation.

A mating pair of Slender Spreadwing damselflies (Lestes rectangularis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is "in heart."

24 JUN 2016 | HMP | Slender Spreadwing (mating pair, “in heart“)

Therefore, the male is on upper-left; the female is on the lower-right.

A mating pair of Slender Spreadwing damselflies (Lestes rectangularis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is "in heart."

24 JUN 2016 | HMP | Slender Spreadwing (mating pair, “in heart“)

The next photo shows the mating pair “in tandem,” immediately after copulation. Editor’s Note: Male (soft focus); female (sharp focus).

A mating pair of Slender Spreadwing damselflies (Lestes rectangularis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is "in tandem," after copulation. Note: male (soft focus); female (sharp focus).

24 JUN 2016 | HMP | Slender Spreadwing (mating pair, “in tandem“)

The last photo shows the mating pair, separated after being “in tandem.” The pair decoupled soon after the heart was broken. Editor’s Note: Male (sharp focus); female (soft focus).

A mating pair of Slender Spreadwing damselflies (Lestes rectangularis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair just separated after being "in tandem."

24 JUN 2016 | HMP | Slender Spreadwing (mating pair, after separation)

Editor’s Note: This is Part 1 in a five-part series of blog posts documenting a cohort of Slender Spreadwing damselflies that emerged from a single vernal pool at Huntley Meadows Park, presented in reverse-chronological order from mature, reproducing adults to emergent tenerals.

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

New discoveries in 2015

December 27, 2015

As the story is told, a reporter asked Willie Sutton “Why do you rob banks?” “Because that’s where the money is,” Willie answered. So when people ask me why I go to the remote locations in Huntley Meadows Park, I answer “Because that’s where the undiscovered species of odonates are.”

There are undiscovered species of odonates at the remote places in the park, in part, because fewer people go to the more difficult to reach locations. Also, the remote locations are often where the “habitat specialists” are found, in contrast with the “habitat generalists” that inhabit the central wetland area.

Springtime Darner dragonfly

Teamwork, and some take-aways

Springtime Darner dragonfly (female)

18 April 2015 | Photograph used with permission from Michael Powell.

Southern Spreadwing damselfly

A Southern Fortnight, Part 1 – Year-long mystery solved!

A mating pair of Southern Spreadwing damselflies (Lestes australis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This pair is in tandem.

03 MAY 2015 | HMP | Southern Spreadwing (mating pair, in tandem)

Roseate Skimmer dragonfly

Roseate Skimmer dragonfly (male)

A Roseate Skimmer dragonfly (Orthemis ferruginea) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

23 SEP 2015 | Huntley Meadows Park | Roseate Skimmer (male)

Sweetflag Spreadwing damselfly

Another new species of spreadwing damselfly?

A Sweetflag Spreadwing damselfly (Lestes forcipatus) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

15 OCT 2015 | HMP | Sweetflag Spreadwing (male)

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

New species: Winter Meadowhawk dragonfly

December 17, 2015

I discovered a new species of dragonfly: Winter Meadowhawk (Sympetrum antifreezium). Kidding!

Winter is defined in two ways: astronomical winter begins on the date of the December Solstice (around 21 December) and ends on the March Equinox (around 21 March); meteorological winter includes the months of December, January, and February. Although astronomical winter hasn’t begun (as of this writing), meterological winter began on 01 December. So I took the liberty of jokingly renaming the last species of odonate still flying during the third week in December (in Northern Virginia): Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum).

I spotted 10s of Autumn Meadowhawks at two locations in Huntley Meadows Park (HMP): most of the dragonflies were seen perching along the boardwalk that goes through the central wetland area; one individual was spotted near a vernal pool/small permanent pond at a remote forested location in the park.

Males

The first two photos in this gallery show two males, as indicated by their coloration and terminal appendages.

An Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum vicinum) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

16 DEC 2015 | HMP | Autumn Meadowhawk (male)

An Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum vicinum) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a male.

16 DEC 2015 | HMP | Autumn Meadowhawk (male)

Mating Pair

The next photo shows a mating pair in tandem: the male is on the lower-left; the female on the upper-right.

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

16 DEC 2015 | HMP | Autumn Meadowhawks (mating pair, in tandem)

Female

The last two photos show a female, as indicated by her coloration and terminal appendages.

An Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum vicinum) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female.

16 DEC 2015 | HMP | Autumn Meadowhawk (female)

An Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum vicinum) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female.

16 DEC 2015 | HMP | Autumn Meadowhawk (female)

Related Resources:

Editor’s Note: 16 December establishes a new late-date for Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies at Huntley Meadows Park. 01 January is the “official” late-date for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Say hello to my little friends!

November 21, 2015

Ever feel like bugs are crawling all over your body? Sometimes the feeling is real! The Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum vicinum) were especially “friendly” during a recent visit to Huntley Meadows Park, landing on me frequently as Michael Powell and I were searching for Great Spreadwing damselflies (Archilestes grandis).

My Photos

The following individual is a male, perching on the leg of my Columbia convertible pants. Regular readers of my photoblog know I’m especially fond of head-tilts in which the dragonfly seems to display some of its personality. Like this guy, who I imagine is thinking “What are you looking at? That’s right pal, I’m perching on your pants!”

The next photo shows two individuals perching on my pants, both females, as indicated by their coloration and terminal appendages.

The last individual is another female. I shot this photo by bending over at the waist and shooting the photo upside down. Apple “Aperture” detected the orientation of my camera and automatically flipped the image vertically.

Mike Powell’s Photos

Mike was in a better position than me to shoot photos of some of the dragonflies that landed on me.

I highly recommend shooting the same subject … with another photographer and comparing results. It’s fascinating and instructive to get a sense of how a single situation can be interpreted and how each photographer makes a whole series of creative choices that result in very different images. Source Credit: Garter Snake in November, by Mike Powell.

The following mating pair is shown “in tandem,” perching on my upper thigh: the male is on top; the female on the bottom. My viewpoint made it impossible to take a good photo of this pair — good thing Mike was nearby to record my close encounter of the odonate kind!

walter1_blog

11 NOV 2015 | Photograph used with permission from Michael Powell.

The next photo shows a female perching on my right forearm. Tough shot for a lefty! (See below.)

walter2_blog

11 NOV 2015 | Photograph used with permission from Michael Powell.

The last photo shows a female perching on the heel of my right hand, near my wrist. Although I’m left-handed, the shutter button is always on the right side of cameras — a one-handed shot was impossible for me in this situation. Again, Mike to the rescue!

walter3_blog

11 NOV 2015 | Photograph used with permission from Michael Powell.

Related Resource: Meadowhawk Mike

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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