I Live Among Dragonflies

I live among dragonflies this summer. Plentiful rain has drenched parts of Georgia (and indeed much of the eastern United States) this year. I know that must account for the increase in these beautiful creatures, but I don’t know the exact scientific reason.

 

This beautiful guy overlooks his kingdom - a bucket of rainwater.

This beautiful guy overlooks his kingdom – a bucket of rainwater. I believe this is a young Libellula vibrans, great blue skimmer.

Plastic buckets and tubs, used to transport dirt and plants in the spring, are usually empty and dry this time of year, but this year they are filled with rainwater and mosquito larvae.  Perhaps these buckets of water attract the dragonflies.

 

Plants in pots surround these buckets (no, I am not running a nursery!) and many of these pots have bamboo stakes to either support a weak plant or encourage a young vine. There is no doubt these stakes are an important feature for these dragonflies. They swoop about, vying for a chance to perch on one of them. Sometimes all the stakes are taken and the next one to come by is left to search for second best such as a leaf or twig.

A stake is claimed by a Pachydiplax longipennis.

A stake is claimed by a blue dasher, Pachydiplax longipennis.

 

 

More detail on the multi-colored Pachydiplax longipennis.

Detail on the multi-colored Pachydiplax longipennis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The population explosion has led me to take an interest in identifying them, and I present here my first attempts at doing that with the most common ones I’ve seen.

The blue dasher, Pachydiplax longipennis, has been the most “friendly.” Individuals are happy to pose for pictures and I even got the chance to watch them mate.

Another skimmer, this might be Libellula incesta, or it could be a very immature L. vibrans.

Another skimmer, this might be Libellula incesta, or it could be a very immature L. vibrans.

 

 

Libellula vibrans 137a

I believe this is a mature Libellula vibrans, great blue skimmer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The richly colored great blue skimmer, Libellula vibrans, has been very common and I think that I have spotted several juvenile forms of it. That has been a learning experience – how much color change there can be from juvenile to adult.

 

A beautiful Erythemis simplicicollis, known by the common name as an emerald.

A beautiful Erythemis simplicicollis, known by the common name “emerald.”

 

I was excited to identify a type of “emerald” dragonfly. What a beautiful specimen.

 

 

Plathemis lydia 141a

This skimmer is known as a common whitetail, Plathemis lydia. It is a juvenile male so the body has not taken on the white coloring yet.

 

 

 

 

 

Another type of dragonfly is known as a “skimmer”. I rarely see these on perches. They seem to prefer flat surfaces like the deck, the sidewalk or a big rock in the front garden. They must like the heat. In general, the air has to heat up a bit before the dragonflies appear; they are not out in the cool morning.

damselfly 2258a

Damselfly

 

 

 

In addition to the dragonflies, I have seen the occasional damselfly. Damselflies are quickly distinguished by the fact that they hold their wings together over their back while dragonflies hold them open.  Also their eyes are much further apart compared to dragonflies.

I suppose the dragonflies won’t be here forever, but I sure am enjoying the moment!

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Comments

  1. Karan Rawlins says

    The reason is simple, more water equals = more plants = more insects = more food both for the larval and adult dragonflies. In addition since larval dragonflies are aquatic they have more places to successfully grow to adulthood.
    Dragonflies are one of my favorite insects. The adults and larvae both eat mosquitos. They are beautiful and they do folks like us, that enjoy spending lots of time outside, a big favor.

  2. says

    These are beautiful photos.

    I find identifying insects and other invertebrates to be challenging. I’ve been working on bees this summer, but so far have only identified the most obvious ones. Some may wonder “what’s the point?” For me it is that you have to observe them more closely in order to identify them (plus you find out about their habits in the guidebooks). Close observation is a window onto the world that so many modern people have neglected. It can bring one into a very calm, focused state of consciousness.

    The natural world needs all the close observers it can get right now.

    • says

      Ruth,I’ve been finding great joy in finding insects and plants and figuring out what they are.

      I have read about certain insects and plants in my area and never even knew that I had been filming them until I started researching the ones I had been filming.

      Before that they were just pretty bugs and plants.

      Learning to identify plants and animals bring a whole new level to enjoying nature I think.
      Kevin J Railsback recently posted..The Sun Doesn’t Always Shine In Nature But Go Out Anyway

  3. Carole says

    I enjoy puzzling out insect IDs, too. Have you considered Erythrodiplax minuscula for the blue one with the black tip and Libellula vibrans (female) for the yellow one? I think your damsel may be Argia fumipennis, commonly known as Variable Dancer. As the name implies the appearance is quite variable geographically, so it may not always look like the photos you find. I’ve found The Beginner’s Guide to Dragonflies by Stokes to be a good, compact resource.

    • says

      Thanks!
      It was a great morning on the tallgrass prairie.
      I stayed there and watched the entire “pref-flight checklist” as the dragonfly warmed up for its first flight.
      Once the dragonfly was gettingn close to being ready to fly, it started its wings up and just say there with its wings going full out before it finally launched into the early Iowa sky.

      I used a fast shutter speed on my camera so the wings look they they are in slow motion but actually I’m filiming in real time.
      Kevin J Railsback recently posted..It’s Not The Gear That Makes The Filmmaker

  4. says

    Witht he pond and all the rain there is a population explosion of both dragon and damseflies…I find them everywhere in front and back gardens and even in the veg garden. I just love all the different ones.
    Donna Donabella recently posted..Backyard Foraging

  5. says

    Beautiful array of the dragonflies of GA. They are fascinating creatures and I’m so blessed to have a healthy population. I can be mesmerized for hours watching them “dip” their eggs into the pond. Thanks for showing me a few “new to me” species. I love your photos!
    Loret recently posted..CANADIAN HORSEWEED (Conyza canadensis)

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