Alright, moving on… Dragonflies!
I always enjoy the arrival of summer here, because I get to do one of my favorite not-directly-mathematical hobbies: taking pictures of bugs. The two photos that are part of my header up above were taken last summer, and I finally have some new ones to share. The following were all taken at a small pond not far from campus, where hundreds of dragonflies and damselflies abound during the summer months.
As my interest in insects has grown, I’ve learned more in the last year about identifying dragonflies, and here (for my benefit at least; scroll down if you’re not interested) is a list of the dragonfly species I’ve spotted at this pond during last summer and this (damselflies are too numerous and too indistinguishable to list, with one exception):
- Widow Skimmer
- Twelve-Spotted Skimmer
- Common Whitetail
- Dot-Tailed Whiteface
- Eastern Amberwing
- Ruby Meadowhawk
- Eastern Pondhawk
- Blue Dasher
- Slaty Skimmer
- Calico Pennant
- Green Darner
- Comet Darner
- Great Spreadwing Damselfly
So here are a few of the latest finds:
A Blue Dasher. I don’t remember seeing these last year, but this year they’re everywhere! Very shy of humans, though–they’ll perch frequently, but the moment I move in for a closeup, they’re gone. This one was so busy hanging on tight against the gusts of wind that I managed to get a few very good photos.
This next one is driving me crazy. It looks and acts for all the world like a female Ruby Meadowhawk, and there were several identical ones all over the place. But meadowhawks are a fall species, and July is way too early to see them. At any rate, they certainly were friendly. One, sitting on the end of a cattail, even put up with my twisting and turning the stem so as to catch different poses and backgrounds. This particular image pleases me in that it shows off the pleats and angles of the dragonfly’s wing–they’re not flat!
It pays to move slowly and patiently, and to look carefully at the reeds and bushes close to the ground. That’s how I discovered this amazing damselfly, the Great Spreadwing, which I had never seen before. While most damselflies are small, no more than an inch and a half long, this thing was enormous, around three inches long. Even so, it moved so smoothly and quietly that I had a hard time keeping track of it as it went from place to place. Fortunately it behaved itself in front of the camera and allowed me to get very close.
As I was about to leave, I spotted this large red blur hovering around the flowers. Although it moved too erratically for me to get any really excellent shots, I at least managed to get a picture clear enough to see those fast-moving wings: it’s a clearwing moth! I have never seen this species even in books, but thanks to Bug Guide I’ve identified it as a Squash Vine Borer. These moths hover like hummingbirds and even look very similar, sticking their extremely long proboscises into flowers without landing.
With the success of the last few trips to this pond, I’m going to try going at different times of day in the hopes of catching some different species (the darner dragonflies in particular almost never land except in the morning and evening). Some morning this week I’ll get up at the unholy hour of 5 am, although not tomorrow since I’ve stayed up too late tonight blogging!