Posts Tagged ‘vernal pool’

Left on the cutting room floor

April 15, 2019

Close readers of my blog may have noticed I’ve posted a lot of photos recently that were taken years ago. Why were the photos passed over for publication closer to the time the shots were taken?

Sometimes there are better shots from the same photowalk that I’m eager to share, and sometimes they just don’t make the grade. The former requires no explanation; the following photos help to illustrate the latter.

The following female Slender Spreadwing damselfly (Lestes rectangularis) was spotted during a photowalk around a vernal pool in the forest at Huntley Meadows Park. The damselfly was perched in a hidey-hole in the vegetation at angle that made it impossible to get the entire subject in focus from head-to-tail.

The first photo shows the head and thorax in focus, but the tip of the abdomen and terminal appendages are out of focus.

15 SEP 2016 | HMP | Slender Spreadwing (female)

The last photo shows the tip of the abdomen and terminal appendages in focus, but the head and thorax are in soft focus. Look closely at a full-size version of the photo and you can see both styli (sing. stylus), structures that serve as sensors (like “curb feelers“) in egg positioning during oviposition.

15 SEP 2016 | HMP | Slender Spreadwing (female)

The odd thing is the focus point is nearly the same in both photos, and the aperture is identical. Go figure! Anyway, less than ideal focus is something that will cause me to reject photos every time. And then there’s that “too hot” blade of grass in the lower-right corner — talk about distracting!

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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Great Blue Skimmer dragonfly (mature male)

April 12, 2019

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 male, as indicated by his terminal appendages, discolored abdomen, and tattered wings.

This male has mated many times, as indicated by the scratches 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.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies (males)

April 5, 2019

Two Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies (Sympetrum ambiguum) were spotted at Old Colchester Park and Preserve (OCPP), Fairfax County, Virginia USA. There is a true vernal pool at the park where Blue-faced Meadowhawks are relatively abundant.

03 OCT 2016 | OCPP | Blue-faced Meadowhawk (male)

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

03 OCT 2016 | OCPP | Blue-faced Meadowhawk (male)

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Time series: Purple Milkweed (Parts 3, 4)

March 18, 2019

Purple Milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens) flowers were photographed on 06 and 10 June 2016 near a large vernal pool at Huntley Meadows Park in Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

Kevin Munroe, former park manager at Huntley Meadows, designated Purple Milkweed as a “plant of interest” due to the fact that it is officially a rare plant species in the state of Virginia (S2).

Part 3

These plants are covered with ants, lots of ants!

Later, a single Great Spangled Fritillary butterfly (Speyeria cybele) was feeding on the same milkweed plant, along with lots of ants.

Part 4

Lots of Great Spangled Fritillary butterflies (Speyeria cybele) were observed feeding on the milkweed. The next two photos show the same individual in two poses.

The proboscis, a specialized structure that enables butterflies to siphon liquids from flowers, is shown clearly in the next two photos.

An Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus) was feeding on another cluster of milkweed flowers. Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is the State Insect of Virginia. Really, who knew there are official state insects?

The last photo is my favorite in both galleries.

Related Resources

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Time series: Purple Milkweed (Part 2)

March 15, 2019

The following Purple Milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens) flower was photographed on 01 June 2016 near a large vernal pool at Huntley Meadows Park in Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

The milkweed is covered by a cornucopia of insects including ants (one ant can be seen in the full-size version of the first photo), what I think is some type of weevil (the darker insects featuring a curved proboscis that reminds me of an elephant trunk), a cool looking metallic gold-green bee, and what I think is a species of Crane Fly.

As it turns out, my tentative identification of the Crane Fly is incorrect.

The crane fly is actually a [species of] Stilt Bug [from the Family Berytidae]. I can tell by the clubbed antennae and distally enlarged femora. Source Credit: Natalie Hernandez, member of the BugGuide Facebook group.

The gold-green bee is shown more clearly in the full-size version of the following photo. Masumi Palhof, another member of the BugGuide Facebook group, thinks the bee might be a Silky Striped-Sweat bee (Agapostemon sericeus).

Related Resources

Post Update

The weevil is in the subfamily Baridinae (commonly known as “flower weevils”), maybe Odontocorynus umbellae or O. salebrosus. Source Credit: Ted C. MacRae, Senior Entomologist & Science Fellow. Beetles In The Bush [blog].

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Time series: Purple Milkweed (Part 1)

March 13, 2019

During a two-week period in late-May/early-June 2016, I followed a cohort of Slender Spreadwing damselflies (Lestes rectangularis) that emerged from a large vernal pool at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

Purple Milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens) plants were growing in the fields near the same vernal pool. This blog post is the first of a four-part time series featuring photos of the milkweed, taken during some of my visits to the site in search of Slender Spreadwing.

Related Resources

Post Update

Look closely at the full-size version of the first photo. Notice the small black insects on the milkweed flowers.

Ants are notorious for stealing nectar and love all kinds of Milkweeds… Source Credit: Alonso Abugattas Jr, Natural Resources Manager for Arlington County Parks, Virginia USA. Alonso is also the creator and administrator of the Capital Naturalist Facebook group, where I requested help with identification of the unknown insects on the milkweed.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Beardtongue

March 4, 2019

Beardtongue (Penstemon sp., possibly Penstemon digitalis), an odd-looking flowering plant, was spotted growing along the margin of a large vernal pool at Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

One look at the full-size version of the following photo and it’s easy to see the origin of one of the common names for this plant.

Sincere thanks to Karla Jamir for help in identifying the flowering plant. Karla is a plant expert extraordinaire who volunteers at Huntley Meadows Park.

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.

Male Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonflies

February 4, 2018

On the same day that I saw a male Blue-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum ambiguum) with an eye injury, one or more other males were photographed at the same location in Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

22 OCT 2017 | HMP | Blue-faced Meadowhawk (male)

Please look at the full-size version of each photo in order to fully appreciate these handsome little devils!

22 OCT 2017 | HMP | Blue-faced Meadowhawk (male)

22 OCT 2017 | HMP | Blue-faced Meadowhawk (male)

22 OCT 2017 | HMP | Blue-faced Meadowhawk (male)

22 OCT 2017 | HMP | Blue-faced Meadowhawk (male)

Copyright © 2018 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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