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