Posts Tagged ‘Lestes rectangularis’

Slender Spreadwing damselflies (females)

March 25, 2017

Two female Slender Spreadwing damselflies (Lestes rectangularis) were spotted during a photowalk around a vernal pool in the forest at Huntley Meadows Park.

No. 1

No. 2

Notice the second individual is bluer in color. Coloration is variable, so it’s better to look at other field markers when making an identification.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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Arachnids 2, Odonates 0

March 23, 2017

A spider was observed preying upon a teneral damselfly at a vernal pool in Huntley Meadows Park. The genus/species of the spider is uncertain; the damselfly appears to be a female Slender Spreadwing (Lestes rectangularis).

31 MAY 2016 | Huntley Meadows Park | spider preying upon damselfly

According to experts on the BugGuide Facebook group, the spider is probably an unknown species from the Family Araneidae (Orb Weavers).

Post Update: Ashley Bradford, a local arachnid expert and excellent all-around amateur naturalist, identified the spider as an Arabesque Orbweaver (Neoscona arabesca). Thanks, Ashley!

31 MAY 2016 | Huntley Meadows Park | spider preying upon damselfly

Aperture Priority mode was used for the next photo, in order to increase the depth of field. As you can see, the depth of field at f/8.0 was insufficient for both the damselfly and spider to be in focus.

31 MAY 2016 | Huntley Meadows Park | spider preying upon damselfly

A dragonfly was trapped in a spider web at Hidden Pond, Meadowood Recreation Area, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. The dragonfly, possibly an immature male Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis), is infested with parasitic red water mites.

22 JUN 2016 | Meadowood Recreation Area | dragonfly in spider web

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

How to Identify Damselfly Exuviae to Family

March 11, 2017

There are five families of damselflies (Suborder Zygoptera) in the United States of America, although only three families occur in the mid-Atlantic region: Family Calopterygidae (Broad-winged Damselflies)Family Coenagrionidae (Narrow-winged Damselflies); and Family Lestidae (Spreadwings).

Pattern recognition can be used to tentatively identify damselfly larvae/exuviae to the family level: the shape of the prementum is characteristic for each of the three families; mnemonics can be used to remember each distinctive shape.

Family Calopterygidae (Broad-winged Damselflies)

Family Calopterygidae features a prementum with a shape that looks somewhat similar to Family Coenagrionidae. Look for an embedded raindrop shape, located toward the upper-center of the prementum.

An Ebony Jewelwing damselfly (Calopteryx maculata) exuvia was collected along a small stream located in eastern Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

Family Calopterygidae (Broad-winged Damselflies) | prementum

Family Coenagrionidae (Narrow-winged Damselflies)

The shape of the prementum for Family Coenagrionidae reminds me of a keystone.

A Narrow-winged Damselfly exuvia — probably Argia sp. (it’s a work in progress) — was collected along the Potomac River in Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female, as indicated by the rudimentary ovipositor located on the ventral side of her abdomen.

Family Coenagrionidae (Narrow-winged Damselflies) | ventral

The lamellae, also known as caudal lamellae, are external structures used by damselfly larvae for both respiration and locomotion. In contrast, the respiratory system for dragonfly larvae is internal. Characteristics of the caudal lamellae (including shape of/patterns on) are some of the clues that can be used to identify damselflies to the genus/species level.

Family Lestidae (Spreadwings)

The unique shape of the prementum for Family Lestidae reminds me of a rattle (musical instrument).

A damselfly exuvia from the Family Lestidae (Spreadwings) was collected from a small vernal pool located in eastern Fairfax County, Virginia USA. Although the genus/species is unknown (again, it’s a work in progress), both Slender Spreadwing (Lestes rectangularis) adults and Southern Spreadwing (Lestes australis) adults were observed at the vernal pool on the same day this specimen was collected.

Family Lestidae (Spreadwings) | prementum

Related Resources

The first step is the hardest, as the saying goes. In this case, it’s easier to identify damselfly larvae/exuviae to the family level than it is to identify specimens to the genus/species level. There are relatively few resources, especially online resources. The following links to two dichotomous keys and a pattern-matching guide for caudal lamellae should help you get started. Many of the same species of damselflies that are known to occur in Michigan, Florida, and the Carolinas can be found in the mid-Atlantic region.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Slender Spreadwing damselfly (female)

October 8, 2016

A Slender Spreadwing damselfly (Lestes rectangularis) was spotted near a vernal pool at Huntley Meadows Park. This individual is a female, as indicated by her terminal appendages.

I found the female Slender Spreadwing while searching for Great Spreadwing damselflies (Archilestes grandis). As it turns out, the first Great Spreadwings of 2016 were spotted at the same location on 22 September.

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Part 5: Teneral male Slender Spreadwings

August 7, 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.

Teneral Males

Several Slender Spreadwing damselflies were spotted perching on vegetation in a vernal pool from which they probably emerged. All of these individuals are teneral males, as indicated by their coloration, terminal appendages, and the position of their wings. Notice all four wings are still folded above the body — a field marker indicating these spreadwing males emerged recently.

31 May 2016

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

31 May 2016 | HMP | Slender Spreadwing (teneral male)

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

31 May 2016 | HMP | Slender Spreadwing (teneral male)

06 June 2016

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

06 June 2016 | HMP | Slender Spreadwing (teneral male)

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

06 June 2016 | HMP | Slender Spreadwing (teneral male)

Editor’s Note: This is Part 5 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.

Part 4: Young male Slender Spreadwings

August 5, 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. Young male Slender Spreadwings dispersed into nearby fields soon after emergence from the vernal pool.

Young Males

Several Slender Spreadwing damselflies were spotted in a meadow located near a vernal pool from which they probably emerged. All of these individuals are young males, as indicated by their coloration and terminal appendages.

31 May 2016

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

31 MAY 2016 | HMP | Slender Spreadwing (young male)

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

31 MAY 2016 | HMP | Slender Spreadwing (young male)

06 June 2016

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

06 JUN 2016 | HMP | Slender Spreadwing (young male)

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

06 JUN 2016 | HMP | Slender Spreadwing (young male)

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

06 JUN 2016 | HMP | Slender Spreadwing (young male)

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

06 JUN 2016 | HMP | Slender Spreadwing (young male)

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

06 JUN 2016 | HMP | Slender Spreadwing (young male)

10 June 2016

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

10 JUN 2016 | HMP | Slender Spreadwing (young male)

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

10 JUN 2016 | HMP | Slender Spreadwing (young male)

Editor’s Note: This is Part 4 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.

Part 3: More adult male Slender Spreadwings

August 3, 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.

More Adult Males

Two Slender Spreadwing damselflies were spotted on 10 June 2016 in a meadow located near a vernal pool from which they probably emerged.

Both individuals are adult males, as indicated by their coloration and terminal appendages.

Editor’s Note: This is Part 3 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.

Part 2: Slender Spreadwing (adult male)

August 1, 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.

Adult Male

This is the male member of a mating pair of Slender Spreadwing damselflies spotted on 24 June 2016 in a meadow located near a vernal pool from which the pair probably emerged.

This is the male member of a mating pair of Slender Spreadwing damselflies (Lestes rectangularis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

24 JUN 2016 | HMP | Slender Spreadwing (adult male)

This individual is a male, as indicated by its coloration and terminal appendages.

This is the male member of a mating pair of Slender Spreadwing damselflies (Lestes rectangularis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

24 JUN 2016 | HMP | Slender Spreadwing (adult male)

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

In contrast with male dragonflies, male damselflies have four terminal appendages, collectively called “claspers,” that are used to grab and hold female damselflies during mating: an upper pair of cerci (“superior appendages”); and a lower pair of epiprocts (“inferior appendages”).

This is the male member of a mating pair of Slender Spreadwing damselflies (Lestes rectangularis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

24 JUN 2016 | HMP | Slender Spreadwing (adult male)

Editor’s Note: This is Part 2 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.

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.

Slender Spreadwing damselfly (female)

October 14, 2015

The following gallery of photos features a Slender Spreadwing damselfly (Lestes rectangularis) spotted near a vernal pool at Huntley Meadows Park (HMP). This individual is a female, as indicated by its terminal appendages and the ovipositor located on the underside of the posterior abdomen. The ovipositor is used to insert eggs into vegetation (endophytic oviposition).

A Slender Spreadwing damselfly (Lestes rectangularis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female.

08 OCT 2015 | HMP | Slender Spreadwing (female)

See a full-size version of the preceding photo, without annotation.

A Slender Spreadwing damselfly (Lestes rectangularis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female.

08 OCT 2015 | HMP | Slender Spreadwing (female)

Look closely at the tip of the female’s abdomen. Notice a couple of anatomical structures: two cerci (sing. cercus), superior appendages that have little or no function; and two styli (sing. stylus), structures that serve as sensors (like “curb feelers“) in egg positioning during oviposition.

A Slender Spreadwing damselfly (Lestes rectangularis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female.

08 OCT 2015 | HMP | Slender Spreadwing (female)

See a full-size version of the preceding photo, without annotation. Adobe Photoshop was used to remove a couple of small distracting elements from the photo.

The last two photos provide a good side view of the ovipositor.

A Slender Spreadwing damselfly (Lestes rectangularis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female.

08 OCT 2015 | HMP | Slender Spreadwing (female)

A Slender Spreadwing damselfly (Lestes rectangularis) spotted at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female.

08 OCT 2015 | HMP | Slender Spreadwing (female)

Related Resource: Odonate Terminal Appendages.

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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