Sunday, June 20, 2010

More Dragonflies

Dragonflies have been swarming around the pond in tremendous numbers, but I actually encounter more different species out in the fields where they spend their time hunting. This is a female Eastern Pondhawk, an aggressive species that perches on the ground and zooms up to grab insects flying over.

I always try to take pictures of dragonflies from two different angles. Having a side view and a top view usually shows me the details necessary to make a proper identification.

Of course, I always have a few shots from odd angles. I saw this dragonfly shoot into the grass and made a quick shot just in case it got scared away before I could get a better angle. I needn’t have worried. As I moved around, I scared up a few insects that the dragonfly flew up and grabbed. At one point it actually circled my feet watching for more insects to come out of the grass. According to the text, this is a common behavior for this species.

I was really excited to get a shot of this Arrowhead Spiketail. This is a species that lays its eggs in tiny streams or springs. I’ve watched them cruise up and down the creek, but never got a photo opportunity or a good enough view for an ID. The Arrowhead in the name refers to the arrowhead shaped markings on the upper side of the abdomen.

I was crouched down beside the creek, just dabbling in the water, when the Arrowhead Spiketail came up and perched a few feet in front of me. This is the northern form of the species, recognized by the green eyes and the bright yellow markings.

There are many good dragonfly identification books available that cover all the species you are likely to encounter in a particular area. This makes it possible to identify most species you see. The problem is that many species have distinct male, female and juvenile forms, so for each species you may have to remember two or three different images. This is the female form of the Common Whitetail I showed a couple of days ago. Quite a different animal than the male.


  1. Excellent images and lesson once again.

  2. I'd love to improve my butterfly, dragonfly and damselfly ID skills, but it seems sort of overwhelming... I guess I just need to start by buying a couple good field guides! (They may have to wait, though, because I've already decided that my next field guide purchase is going to be the gorgeous Sibley tree book!)

  3. Thanks, Lois.

    Rebecca - You can never have enough field guides. I like Butterflies Through Binoculars and Dragonflies Through Binoculars. I find it easy to thumb through the photos and pick out the species I've found. The Dragonflies and Damselflies of Ohio is a good reference, though not a field guide, but the spiral binding keeps stretching and letting the pages fall out. It's really annoying.

  4. That Arrowhead Spiketail is surely a handsome species.