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Archive for the ‘damselfly’ Category

Damselfly mating is, to say the least, unusual and acrobatic. Yes, I felt a little like a voyeur as I observed this pair of Ebony Jewelwing damselflies (Calopteryx maculata) on Monday at Huntley Meadows Park.

Did you notice the sideways heart that their bodies form during this process? Yeah, I am a bit of a romantic, even when it comes to mating insects in the wild. I would recommend, though, that you not try this position at home, but leave it to the professionally trained damselflies. You might otherwise require an unplanned visit to a chiropractor.

Ebony Jewelwing mating

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Whenever I walk along the edge of a pond, I always like to look for damselflies, which love to perch on the vegetation growing out of the water. Footing can be a bit problematic and more than once I have slid down a slippery bank into the water. Normally, though, I just lean out as far as I dare to get some shots.

Last weekend as I was exploring Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, I spotted this beautiful little damselfly that was looking in my direction. I knew that depth of field would be a problem from that position, but did my best to focus on the damselfly’s beautiful eyes. When I returned home and began to review my shots, I was a little shocked to see what looked to be the discarded exoskeleton (exuvia) of another damselfly (or possibly a dragonfly) on the underside of the leaf on which “my” damselfly had perched. How did I not notice that when I was shooting?

I really like the way that the head of the exoskeleton is facing that of the damselfly and the shadow in between the two of them. Is it the shadow of the one looking down or the one looking up? Common sense says that it is the former, but the slight degree of ambiguity adds interest to the photo for me.


damselfly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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In addition to dragonflies, damselflies are now appearing in greater numbers, like this beautiful little Ebony Jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata) that I spotted on Friday at Huntley Meadows Park. Identification is pretty easy, because it is the only dark-winged species in our area. The red eyes suggest that it is newly emerged—the eyes will change to a less demonic color later—and the lack of white markings on the wings indicate it is a male. Click on the image if you want to see some of the details of the damselfly at higher resolution, like the tiny hairs on its legs.

Ebony Jewelwing

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Nature photographers are a peculiar breed of people. How else could I explain why I headed off to the Donau-Auen National Park within hours of my arrival in Vienna, Austria. I am staying in the center of the city, virtually surrounded by historic buildings and monuments, yet I feel more drawn to explore nature than history.

Saturday was a warm, sunny day and I was hoping to encounter dragonflies as I explored some of the areas of the park that I have visited before. It may be a little early in the season or that I was simply not lucky, but in any case I did not encounter a single dragonfly. I was, however, quite fortunate and saw quite a few damselflies. These beautiful little creatures are tiny and elusive and like to hide perch on vegetation, so it is often challenging to get clear shots of them.

I was shooting with my Canon SX50, a superzoom point-and-shoot, which helped me sometimes to get shots without scaring off the damselflies. In some cases, though, it was really tough to get the camera’s focus to lock onto the target.

The shapes and colors of the damselflies are somewhat familiar and may be related to the species that I see at home, but I am not even going to try to identify them. I hope that you can enjoy the delicate beauty of these damselflies that I encountered during my most recent adventures in the national park here in Vienna.

damselfly in Vienna

 

damselfly in Vienna

 

damselfly in Vienna

damselfly in Vienna

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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You have to be awfully lucky to capture in-flight images of damselflies, but it helps a little when they are in tandem. I spotted these Southern Spreadwing damselflies (Lestes australis) last week at Huntley Meadows Park. The pair in the foreground were still hooked up after mating and appeared to be heading for the branch that you can see in order to lay eggs there.

It’s cool how you can see another damselfly in the background flying in from another direction. I noticed that some single damselflies, probably rival males, seemed to be trying to interfere with the couples when they were involved in ovipositing, which is why the male stays with the female until he is sure the job is done.

Southern Spreadwing

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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These Southern Spreadwing damselflies (Lestes australis) were engaging in a little May Day mayhem this past Monday at Huntley Meadows Park. If I have this figured out right, the female, the one on the right in this image, is depositing her eggs in the vegetation after successfully mating with the male, who is still holding on to her.

Southern Spreadwing

 © Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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As I drove back yesterday from Georgia to Northern Virginia, an almost 800 mile drive (1287 km),  I stopped at a rest area on I-95 in North Carolina. Noting that there was a small man-made pond, I decided to investigate for odes and spotted this damselfly. One of the experts in the Southeaster Odes Facebook Group helped to identify this beauty as a female Fragile Forktail damselfly (Ischnura posita).

It’s a whole lot cooler in Northern Virginia than it was in Georgia and North Carolina, so I suspect that I will have to wait a month or two for damselflies and dragonflies to emerge here. With this sneak preview, I can hardly wait.

fragile forktail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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