I’ve been looking forward to starting dragonfly programs at work again this year, so I’ve been trekking down to the pond occasionally to check on the dragonfly situation there. I saw my first common green darner on March 24, which is pretty early. When I went to check up on them yesterday, I saw 5 species!! And you know what that means: it’s time for Friday 5! Here’s what I saw:
Common Green Darner
Now this photo is truly terrible, but I couldn’t get my camera to respond as quickly as I’d like. I challenge you to find the dragonfly in this photo at all! However, there IS a common green darner in the photo, and it was one of six at the pond. I saw two pairs mating, so 4 males and two females. I suspect these are migrant green darners. The nymphs in the pond are all still too small to be emerging and it’s been too cold for too long for me to expect them to be coming from our pond this early. Between that and the fact that I’ve been hearing reports of big migratory and static darner swarms in Florida, I think that these are green darners stopping over on their way north for the summer.
These dragonflies come out very early relative to other dragonflies and I tend to see very, very young individuals on the rare occasions that I see them at all. This is a photo from last year as the photo I took yesterday didn’t turn out at all, but it was nearly identical in appearance. I find these when they fly, almost drunkenly, from an area near the pond to the grassy hill beside the pond and crash into the grass. For whatever reason, nearly every blue corporal I’ve ever seen has been freshly emerged and its wings have hardened just enough for it to fly badly a very short distance. The wings will darken a bit more and become a little less glossy once they finish hardening. The body will also change colors and the abdomen will expand some as well. This dragonfly had probably been an adult for an hour, so brand spanking new!
This photo is from last year too because I only caught a quick glimpse of a pair of common whitetails in tandem, zooming off over the prairie and they never came back. I got just enough of a look at them to know that they were whitetails for sure, but definitely didn’t have time to get the camera pointed at them before they disappeared. These are some of our earliest dragonflies each year, and one of the last to disappear in the fall. If I had to pick a dragonfly to represent Prairie Ridge, it would be the whitetails as they are far and away the most commonly spotted dragonflies throughout the season.
This has been the earliest damselfly I’ve seen the last few years, and it was the first I saw this year too. They are easy to tell from other forktails at the pond by the exclamation mark shaped pattern on the thorax, clearly visible in this photo. They also tend to be smaller than a lot of the other damselflies you might see flying with them, though this one was quite a bit larger than the average fragile forktail I’ve encountered. If you look closely, you’ll see that this one was in the process of eating a small insect when I snapped this photo.
No photo at all for this one! I saw one blue and black damselfly fly past and then promptly lost sight of it against the grass. I’d bet it was an Enallagma species of some sort, knowing what we have on the grounds and the coloration of the insect, but who knows which one. Definitely didn’t get a good look at this one…
Dragonflies are back out!! After what was a long and cold winter (at least by North Carolina standards), it’s lovely to see the dragonflies out and about again. Who else out there is seeing dragonflies? Anyone want to share the things they’ve seen recently?
Have a great weekend everyone!