Sunday, July 11, 2010

Riverside dragons and damsels

This weekend marked the annual Great Lakes Odonata Meeting, which was held right here in central Ohio. I attended Friday night's festivities, even giving a program on the Forest Giant, Megaloprepus caerulatus, the world's largest damselfly (7+ inch wingspan!). But I really wanted to spend more time in the field with all of the experts that were assembled, but other commitments wouldn't allow for it.

Inspired by Tom Arbour's outstanding photography in his presentation, I found a few hours late on Sunday afternoon to hit my local patch along the Scioto River and seek some dragons.

A large, lush patch of Water-willow, Justicia americana. An excellent habitat to slosh through seeking dragonflies and damselflies.

Exotic and orchidlike, the flowers of Water-willow are probably not all that often seen, as one typically has to get their feet wet to get at them.

I saw lots of these tiny beauties - Stream Bluets, Enallagma exsulans. If you are up for photographic challenges, try directing your lens towards dragonflies. They present several obstacles. One, they are possessed of outstanding vision and extraordinary flying ability. It is sometimes quite difficult to sneak within range. Two, they are long and narrow. It can be nearly impossible to get the entire critter in focus, so go for the eyes. Chances are if those are in focus the pic will be OK. Three, getting down on their level often means entering the water. I was kneeling in a couple of feet of water to work with these bluets.

A Powdered Dancer, Argia moesta. This is a very common streamside species, and is often found resting on rocks in the water or on logs and branches. Note how the wings are held well above the abdomen, a characteristic of dancers.

Face to face with a Blue-fronted Dancer, Argia apicalis. The thorax appears to be plated with turquoise armor.

One of our tiniest damselflies is this, the Eastern Forktail, Ischnura verticalis. This is an adult male, and the blue-tipped abdomen really stands out as they flutter weakly through the vegetation.

About as fresh a Common Whitetail, Plathemis lydia, as you'll ever see. This is a male, and it's not yet even mated. If it had, there would be telltale scars on the chalky-white abdomen where the female's legs would have rubbed off the pruinose covering during coupling. Whitetails nearly always perch prostrate on the ground, log, or rock.

Female Widow Skimmer, Libellula luctuosa, in typical repose. This species tends to perch low in rather dense herbaceous plan growth. Widow Skimmers are very common, and occur in all manner of wetland habitat, and are often found in meadows far from water.

1 comment:

Jana said...

Nice photos of damsels and dragons. It's so hard to remember them all.