Posts Tagged ‘Plathemis lydia’

I was common, when common wasn’t cool.

June 8, 2021

Common Whitetail dragonfly (Plathemis lydia) was observed during a photowalk along a mid-size stream at an undisclosed location in Prince William County, Virginia USA.

This individual is an immature male, as indicated by his mostly brown coloration, pattern of wing spots, and terminal appendages.

13 MAY 2021 | PNC. Wm. County | Common Whitetail (immature male)

This photo is one of a few “warm-up shots” I took at the outset of my photowalk. I think it’s a good idea to be sure your camera gear is working as expected before you blow an opportunity to photograph something rare to uncommon by fiddling with camera settings.

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Common Whitetail dragonflies

May 4, 2021

Common Whitetail dragonfly (Plathemis lydia) was observed near a small pond during a photowalk with Michael Powell at Occoquan Regional Park (ORP). This individual is a female, as indicated by her mostly brown coloration, pattern of wing spots, and terminal appendages.

28 APR 2021 | ORP | Common Whitetail (female)

Contrast the appearance of the female (shown above) with an immature male (shown below) seen on the same day at the same location. Notice the wing spots and terminal appendages are quite different for female and male Common Whitetail dragonflies.

28 APR 2021ORP | Common Whitetail (immature male)

Later the same day, another Common Whitetail dragonfly was observed near Mulligan Pond at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge (JMAWR) in Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a mature male, as indicated by the white pruinescence covering his abdomen. “Common Whitetail,” the common name for Plathemis lydia, is derived from the coloration of mature males of this species.

28 APR 2021 | JMAWR | Common Whitetail (mature male)

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Common Whitetail dragonfly (immature male)

April 30, 2021

A Common Whitetail dragonfly (Plathemis lydia) was observed near a small pond during a photowalk with Michael Powell at Occoquan Regional Park (ORP).

This individual is an immature male, as indicated by his mostly brown coloration, pattern of wing spots, and terminal appendages. Part of his left fore wing is missing, probably as a result of an encounter with a predator.

28 APR 2021 | ORP | Common Whitetail (immature male)

Common Whitetail dragonflies are habitat generalists that can be found almost anywhere there is water. They are among the first species of dragonflies to appear during spring and the last to disappear in fall.

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Common Whitetail dragonfly (mature male)

September 11, 2020

A Common Whitetail dragonfly (Plathemis lydia) was spotted during a photowalk with Michael Powell around Mulligan Pond at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge (JMAWR) in Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

This individual is a mature male, as indicated by his coloration, pattern of wing spots, and terminal appendages.

18 AUG 2020 | JMAWR | Common Whitetail (mature male)

Common Whitetail” is one of a few common names for odonates that makes perfect sense, at least for males. This species is found commonly in lentic habitats. It’s one of the first species to emerge during spring and one of the last to disappear in fall.

Although Common Whitetail is easy to find, it can be challenging to photograph mature males without blowing out the highlights in their bright white abdomen.

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Icebreaker

June 8, 2020

When I go looking for rare-to-uncommon species of odonates, I like to take a few “warm-up shots” at the beginning of the photowalk in order to be sure all my photography gear is working properly — the moment you find your target species is the wrong time to be fiddling around with camera settings or troubleshooting an external flash unit that isn’t firing!

The following photo is one of my “warm-up shots” from a recent photowalk with Michael Powell at a location in Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

26 MAY 2020 | Fairfax County, VA | Common Whitetail (immature male)

Common Whitetail (Plathemis lydia) is a common species of dragonfly. Plathemis lydia is a “habitat generalist” that can be found almost anywhere there is water. It is one of the first species to appear in spring and one of the last species to disappear in fall.

This individual is an immature male, as indicated by the brown coloration of his abdomen, pattern of wing spots, and terminal appendages.

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Common Whitetail (mature male)

August 21, 2019

Common Whitetail dragonfly (Plathemis lydia) was spotted near the Painted Turtle Pond Environmental Study AreaOccoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA.

This individual is a mature male, as indicated by the white coloration of his abdomen, pattern of wing spots, and terminal appendages. He is perched vertically on the corner of a storage shed.

16 AUG 2019 | Occoquan Bay NWR | Common Whitetail (mature male)

This male has mated many times, as indicated by the scratch marks on his abdomen.

Males that have mated often have marks on their abdomen where the female legs have scratched them. This is especially obvious in species in which males develop pruinosity, as the pruinosity on the mid-abdomen is scratched off, and the signs are visible at some distance. Source Credit: Paulson, Dennis (2011-12-19). Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East (Princeton Field Guides) (Kindle Locations 390-392). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.

Gear Talk

“Expose for the highlights” is a well-known rule of thumb in photography, that is, adjust the camera settings so the highlights are exposed perfectly.

Mature male Common Whitetail dragonflies are challenging to photograph because they prefer perching in direct sunlight, so it’s easy to blow out the highlights on their bright white abdomen. After a few test shots, I was able to adjust the flash power ratio so that the subject is exposed properly.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Blown away!

August 19, 2019

A Common Whitetail dragonfly (Plathemis lydia) was spotted at the Painted Turtle Pond Environmental Study Area, Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Prince William County, Virginia USA.

This individual is an immature male, as indicated by his brown coloration, pattern of wing spots, and terminal appendages.

Gear Talk

“Expose for the highlights” is a well-known rule of thumb in photography, that is, adjust the camera settings so the highlights are exposed perfectly.

The preceding photo was a test shot. The highlights are almost blown out completely because the flash power ratio was set too high for proper exposure of the scene; the dragonfly flew away before I could reduce the flash power.

All of that being said, there’s something about this image that I like. It reminds me of an old, faded black-and-white photo print. The word “sepia” comes to mind.

Related Resource: Common Whitetail dragonflies (young males, mature males)

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

So close, yet so far!

April 10, 2019

Two Common Whitetail dragonflies (Plathemis lydia) were spotted perched on a wooden fence rail located near the terminus of the Hike-Bike Trail at Huntley Meadows Park (HMP), Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

The individual shown on the left is a mature female; the one on the right is a mature male.

15 SEP 2016 | HMP | Common Whitetail (mature female and male)

Sexing Common Whitetail dragonflies

For many of the common species of odonates found in Northern Virginia, I created a collection of annotated guides that illustrates how to differentiate gender by looking at terminal appendages. The difference in the pattern of wings spots for male and female Common Whitetails is sufficient to identify gender.

Life Cycle of Odonates

Odonates (dragonflies and damselflies) are aquatic insects that spend most of their life as larvae that live in water; this stage of their life cycle can last from a few months to a few years, depending upon the species. Finally, they emerge from the water and metamorphose into adults in order to reproduce; their offspring return to the water and the cycle begins again.

I wonder how these two mature adults were able to be so close yet resist the compelling biological urge to hook up!

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Common Whitetail (immature males)

May 7, 2018

A first-of-season Common Whitetail dragonfly (Plathemis lydia) was spotted perching on the ground near a vernal pool at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is an immature male, as indicated by his terminal appendages, brown colored abdomen, and pattern of wing spots.

30 APR 2018 | Huntley Meadows Park | Common Whitetail (immature male)

Another immature male was spotted along an informal trail at a remote location in the park.

30 APR 2018 | Huntley Meadows Park | Common Whitetail (immature male)

Young male Common Whitetails begin to develop white pruinescence that changes the color of their abdomen from brown to white, hence the common name for this species.

Sexing Common Whitetail dragonflies

For many of the common species of odonates found in Northern Virginia, I created a collection of annotated guides that illustrates how to differentiate gender by looking at terminal appendages. The difference in the pattern of wings spots for male and female Common Whitetails is sufficient to identify gender.

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Common Whitetail dragonfly (female)

May 5, 2018

Common Whitetail dragonflies (Plathemis lydia) are like bad party guests: they are among the first to arrive and last to leave. Nonetheless, it was good to see one on a day when almost no adult odonate species were observed.

30 APR 2018 | Huntley Meadows Park | Common Whitetail (female)

A Common Whitetail was spotted perching on a man-made brush pile near a vernal pool at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. This individual is a female, as indicated by her terminal appendages and pattern of wing spots.

30 APR 2018 | Huntley Meadows Park | Common Whitetail (female)

The “schmutz” that appears at the tip of her abdomen is probably excrement. Hey, schmutz happens!

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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