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Posts Tagged ‘Libellula lydia’

dragon

Dragonfly (Common Whitetail female, Libellula lydia) on Daylily ‘Dragon Dreams’

 

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Female Widow Skimmer (Libellula luctuosa)

Female Widow Skimmer (Libellula luctuosa)

Hot summer afternoons are the perfect time to dragonfly-watch down by the pond. I spotted dragonflies of 5 different species, including Green Darners (Anax junius), one of the most impressive. Green Darners are large and stocky, with an eye-catching bright green thorax and turquoise-blue abdomen. Strong fliers, several were patrolling the pond but they never settled to have their picture taken! Others were more cooperative, and their photos are featured here. Dragonflies prey upon a variety of insects, usually catching dinner on the wing.

Dot-tailed Whiteface (Leucorrhinia intacta)

Dot-tailed Whiteface (Leucorrhinia intacta)

Common Whitetail (Libellula lydia)

Common Whitetail (Libellula lydia)

Twelve-spotted Skimmer (Libellula pulchella)

Twelve-spotted Skimmer (Libellula pulchella)

EasternKingbird

An Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus) was also catching insects. The kingbird perched on a bare branch with a good view over the pond and made hawking forays out over the water, sometimes hovering in place. Kingbirds can be readily identified by the white band across the bottom of their tail feathers.

pondhoveringkingbird

kingbirdhovering

While I was watching little fish in the shallow water over a submerged board, a water scorpion (Ranatra fusca) strolled by. They’re impressive insects, several inches long. The long “stinger” at the rear isn’t a stinger at all. It’s actually a pair of breathing tubes used to connect with the water surface. The front legs are modified to catch prey, which are dispatched with a bite.

waterscorpion

Water Scorpion (Ranatra fusca)

Northern Pearly-Eye (Enodia anthedon)

Northern Pearly-Eye (Enodia anthedon)

Settled on some flotsam nearby was a Northern Pearly-eye butterfly. They visit mud and sap, but not flowers. Their larval foodplant is grass. A bit farther up the shore was a Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice). These pretty yellow butterflies are common, flitting over meadows and along roadsides. Their larval foodplants include white clover, alfalfa and other legumes.

Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice)

Clouded Sulphur (Colias philodice)

The pond is a happenin’ place.

eveningpond

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dragonflyloop

Across the summer, and from habitat to habitat, the array of dragonflies seen on the wing changes. Pictured above are a pair of Dot-tailed Whiteface dragonflies (Leucorrhinia intacta), a common dragonfly of vegetated ponds, seen in spring and summer. The Whitefaces are members of the Skimmer family. There are 7 species of Whitefaces in North America.

This mating pair demonstrate the “copulation wheel”. In this position, the male transfers a packet of sperm to the female. The process can take from 3 seconds to an hour or more. A male dragonfly can remove sperm deposited by a previous competitor to insure that his own sperm will be the ones fertilizing the female’s eggs. Soon after mating, the female will lay her eggs (oviposit) in flight by tapping the water with the tip of her abdomen.

dragonflywhitetail

The Common Whitetail (Libellula lydia) is a stocky skimmer that flies in summer over a wide variety of wetlands. The male, pictured above, shows the chalky white abdomen for which the species is named. The appearance of the female is quite different from the male. Instead of the white of the male, her abdomen is brown, with angled yellowish to white dashes on the sides. The wings are also different. The male’s wings have broad black bands across the middle and thick black bars at the base, while the wings of the female feature black patches at the base, midpoint and tips. A female Common Whitetail is pictured below.

dragonflywhitetailfemale

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