As I was walking through a field of sunflowers at McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area in Poolesville, Maryland, I spotted an unusual dragonfly that I couldn’t immediately identify. It turned out to be a Black-shouldered Spinyleg dragonfly (Dromogomphus spinosus)—a cool name for a cool-looking dragonfly.
When I first caught sight of the dragonfly, the dragonfly’s long, skinny abdomen and the enlarged area near the end suggested to me that it was a member of the clubtail family of dragonflies. (You can get a really good sense of the shape of the “clubtail” when you look at the shadows in a couple of the images). The only clubtails that I have seen with any kind of regularity have been Common Sanddragons and Unicorn Clubtails, and this was clearly not one of them. When I am out in the field, I don’t worry too much about identification—I practice what I call the “Law of the West,” i.e. “shoot first and ask questions later.”
Later in the day my shooting partner was able to identify the dragonfly after I pointed her to the website “Dragonflies of Northern Virginia.” This website is my favorite resources for information and photos of dragonflies in my area. I checked my past blog postings because I had a vague recollection that I had seen this species before and found a posting indicating that I saw one almost exactly a year ago on a trip to a different part of Maryland.
© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.