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.
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.
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.
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.
The pond is a happenin’ place.