Posts Tagged ‘mature female’

Great Blue Skimmer (mature females)

September 27, 2017

Two Great Blue Skimmer dragonflies (Libellula vibrans) were photographed during photowalks at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge (OBNWR), Prince William County, Virginia USA.

Both individuals are mature female, as indicated by their terminal appendages, muted coloration, and tattered wings. They were perching in shady hidey-holes relatively far from water.

Female Great Blue 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 © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Advertisements

Needham’s Skimmer (mature females)

September 25, 2017

In my experience, female Needham’s Skimmer dragonflies (Libellula needhami) seem to be more abundant than males toward the end of the adult flight period for that species.

Two Needham’s Skimmers were photographed during photowalks at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA. Both individuals are mature female, as indicated by their terminal appendages and muted coloration.

Post Update: Sincere thanks to Drew Chaney for identifying the flowering plant shown in the preceding photo. According to Drew, “It’s either Clematis terniflora or virginiana. I can’t tell without leaves: Terniflora has entire leaves; virginiana has toothed ones.”

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Another mature female skimmer

August 30, 2017

As I mentioned in my last two blog posts (see Related Resources, below), most of the Skimmer dragonflies (Family Libellulidae) spotted during a recent photowalk at Huntley Meadows Park looked old and tattered.

24 AUG 2017 | HMP | Blue Dasher (mature female)

This individual is a mature female Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis), as indicated by her terminal appendages, discolored abdomen, and tattered wings.

Related Resources

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Aging gracefully, revisited

August 28, 2017

Great Blue Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula vibrans) was spotted near a vernal pool in the forest at Huntley Meadows Park (HMP), Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a mature female, as indicated by her terminal appendages, discolored abdomen, and tattered wings.

Female Great Blue 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.

Related Resources

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Calico Pennant dragonfly (female)

July 1, 2017

Calico Pennant dragonfly (Celithemis elisa) was spotted during a photowalk at Painted Turtle Pond, Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA.

20 JUN 2017 | OBNWR | Calico Pennant (mature female)

This individual is a mature female, as evidenced by her terminal appendages and yellow coloration.

20 JUN 2017 | OBNWR | Calico Pennant (mature female)

In my opinion, the coloration of female Calico Pennants is more attractive than male Calicos.

20 JUN 2017 | OBNWR | Calico Pennant (mature female)

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Autumn Meadowhawk (mature female)

April 4, 2017

25 OCT 2016 | OBNWR | Autumn Meadowhawk (mature female)

The preceding photograph shows an Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum vicinum) perching on fall foliage at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge (OBNWR), Prince William County, Virginia USA. This individual is a mature female, as indicated by her terminal appendages, coloration, and tattered wings.

Copyright © 2017 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Shadow Darner dragonfly (female)

October 18, 2016

A Shadow Darner dragonfly (Aeshna umbrosa) was spotted during a photowalk at Mulligan PondJackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge (JMAWR).

A Shadow Darner dragonfly (Aeshna umbrosa) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female heteromorph.

14 OCT 2016 | JMAWR | Shadow Darner (female heteromorph)

This individual is a mature female, as indicated by her coloration, rounded hindwings (near abdomen), and terminal appendages. Female Shadow Darners are polymorphic; this one is a female heteromorph, as indicated by her brown eyes and duller coloration than males of the same species.

A Shadow Darner dragonfly (Aeshna umbrosa) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female heteromorph.

14 OCT 2016 | JMAWR | Shadow Darner (female heteromorph)

The following annotated image illustrates some parts of the reproductive anatomy of a female Shadow Darner dragonfly, including an ovipositor for egg-laying and two styli (sing. stylus), structures that serve as sensors in egg positioning.

A Shadow Darner dragonfly (Aeshna umbrosa) spotted at Mulligan Pond, Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female heteromorph. [Good view of ovipositor/styli.]

14 OCT 2016 | JMAWR | Shadow Darner (female heteromorph)

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

Both female and male Shadow Darners have two long, petal-like cerci (sing. cercus). Notice the female (shown above) is missing both cerci.

[Female] Cerci rounded at tip, longer than S9–10, usually broken off at maturitySource Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Location 4604). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

In contrast, the following male has both cerci and an epiproct; the three terminal appendages are collectively called “claspers.” Claspers are used to grab and hold female damselflies during mating.

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

Related Resources: Scanned digital images from Western Odonata Scans in Life.

  • Shadow Darner | Aeshna umbrosaheteromorph female
  • Shadow Darner | Aeshna umbrosaheteromorph female (note very tattered wings of this old individual)
  • Shadow Darner | Aeshna umbrosaandromorph female
  • Shadow Darner | Aeshna umbrosamale (typical “A. u. umbrosa” with small green abdominal spots but nowhere near the range of that subspecies!)

Copyright © 2016 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Senior sex

April 11, 2015

The following photo shows a couple of high-mileage Great Blue Skimmer dragonflies (Libellula vibrans) still getting it done! The mating pair is “in wheel“: the male is on top; the female is on the bottom.

Great Blue Skimmer dragonflies (mating pair, in wheel)

04 SEP 2014 | HMP | Great Blue Skimmer (mating pair)

The final photo shows the female resting immediately after copulation.

Great Blue Skimmer dragonfly (old female, resting after copulation)

04 SEP 2014 | HMP | Great Blue Skimmer (mature female)

The mature mating pair was spotted at a vernal pool in the forest at Huntley Meadows Park (HMP). Contrast the appearance of the septuagenarian couple (figuratively speaking) with younger mating pairs, listed in reverse chronological order.

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Great Blue Skimmer dragonfly terminal appendages

April 3, 2015

I spotted an unknown dragonfly on 17 May 2012 and sent the following photo (without annotation) to Matt Ryan for his take on the identity of the dragonfly. Matt and I had taken the same introductory class on dragonflies during Summer 2011 at Huntley Meadows Park (HMP). Both of us were eager to learn more about odonates in order to move to the next level of dragonfly spotting.

Matt and I narrowed the field of possible identities to either Great Blue Skimmer (Libellula vibrans) or Slaty Skimmer (Libellula incesta), but we weren’t certain of its gender or age. As I recall, Matt was the first one to mention terminal appendages — a useful field marker that turned out to be one of the key characteristics that enabled us to correctly identify the specimen as an immature male Great Blue Skimmer.

And so it began — my interest in learning more about dragonfly terminal appendages led to lots of new discoveries and remains one of the go-to field markers I look for when identifying dragonflies.

Great Blue Skimmer dragonfly (immature male)

17 MAY 2012 | HMP | Great Blue Skimmer (immature male)

Immature males appear similar to immature females of the same species (and some mature females) for many types of dragonflies that display sexual dimorphism. This is true for many members of the Skimmer Family of dragonflies, such as Great Blue Skimmer. Terminal appendages may be used to differentiate gender for many species of dragonflies.

P1180070-RW2-Ver3_Aperture-BFX32

16 AUG 2013 | ABWR | Great Blue Skimmer (mature 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”).

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

A Great Blue Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula vibrans) spotted at Accotink Bay Wildlife Refuge, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female.

12 SEP 2012 | ABWR | Great Blue Skimmer (mature female)

Look closely at the full-size version of the preceding image. Female Great Blue Skimmers have two flanges beneath their eighth abdominal segment (S8) that are used to scoop 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.

Related Resources: Odonate Terminal Appendages.

Editor’s Note: Matt Ryan went on to become a professional naturalist who works at Huntley Meadows Park. Matt is an excellent all-around naturalist; botany is Matt’s area of specialization.

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Blue Corporal dragonfly terminal appendages

April 1, 2015

Blue Corporal (Ladona deplanata) is a member of the Skimmer Family of dragonflies that is commonly spotted during the spring months at many water bodies in the mid-Atlantic United States.

Immature males appear similar to immature/mature females of the same species for many types of dragonflies that display sexual dimorphism. This is true for many members of the Skimmer Family of dragonflies, such as Great Blue Skimmer (Libellula vibrans), Slaty Skimmer (Libellula incesta), and the following Blue Corporal dragonflies  spotted at Hidden Pond, Meadowood Recreation Area (MRA).

Immature male and female Blue Corporal dragonflies are nearly identical in appearance except for their terminal appendages — the abdomen of both genders is black and copper in coloration.

Blue Corporal dragonfly (immature male)

01 MAY 2013 | MRA | Blue Corporal (immature 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”).

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

Blue Corporal dragonfly (female)

01 MAY 2013 | MRA | Blue Corporal (immature female)

As male Blue Corporals mature their coloration turns black and dark blue, although some mature males turn a lighter shade of blue.

Blue Corporal dragonfly (male)

02 MAY 2013 | MRA | Blue Corporal (mature male)

Mature females turn shades of light grayish-tan. Although the terminal appendages aren’t shown clearly in the following annotated photo, the image illustrates the change in coloration that occurs as females mature.

Blue Corporal dragonfly (mature female)

09 MAY 2013 | MRA | Blue Corporal (mature female)

Related Resources: Odonate Terminal Appendages.

Copyright © 2015 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


%d bloggers like this: