Dragonflies and Damselflies

Dragonflies And Damselflies

I love the number of dragonflies and damselflies that we have at the cottage and I think it is cool that some lived even before dinosaurs first appeared. I knew how to tell dragonflies and damselflies apart, but it was only when I started photographing them that I become aware just how many species there are of each. Dragonflies have a sturdy body, their wings are held out to the side at rest and they have huge eyes. Damselflies are more delicate. They are quite slender and most of them have their wings fold together over their abdomen at rest. Their eyes are large but set somewhat to the side of their head rather than at the front like that of dragonflies. They also differ in their flight. Dragonflies are strong fliers, where as damselflies have more of a fluttering flight. I find it hard to photograph damselflies because they flutter around and don’t stay in one place very long.

I have seen lots of the common blue damselflies around, but even those I need to take a closer look at because I have now discovered that there are a number of different species that are blue.

DSC_0408 damselfly

I did take a closer look at one because they have such funny little faces. I must get myself a macro lens one of these days. I do enjoy seeing the detail on tiny critters.

DSC_9542 Damsel fly

Another damselfly that I found I think is an Orange-striped Threadtail Damselfly (male)

DSC_9949 dragonfly

We seem to see more dragonflies than damselflies and some of them are quite colourful. This one is a Halloween Pennant (male).

Dragonfly 4

Another very colourful dragonfly we found is the Calico Pennant.

DSC_0397 Chalk-fronted Corporal

Many of the dragonflies are black and white, but they do have different markings that tell them apart. This one is a male Calk-fronted Corporal.

DSC_9587 dragonfly

The Common Whitetail (male) has a very descriptive name and is easy to identify.

DSC_3948 dragonfly

Even if the thorax is all black, the wings can be distinctive and help identify which type of dragonfly it is. This is a Widow Skimmer Dragonfly.

DSC_3317 dragonfly

I think this dragonfly is a female Dot-tailed Whiteface.

DSC_9100 dragonfly just hatched

And the one we watched hatching looks like a Fawn Darner, judging from the bright yellow spots on each side of its thorax.

DSC_3815 dragonfly

My guess is that this one is a Common Baskettail. The wings seem similar to the next photo and they do look like they could be Common Baskettails.

DSC_4144 dragonflies mating

There is quite the war of the sexes going on between the male and female dragonfly, which is why you often see them chasing one another with the female trying to escape. She isn’t playing hard to get, she is trying to escape sexual harassment and abuse. The males snatch unwary females while they are warming in the sun and have quite the acrobatic skill. The male approaches the female from behind and holds on to her thorax with his legs and apparently he sometimes bites her! Once he has a firm grip he pulls his abdomen forward and uses his anal appendages to clasp her by the neck. He can then extend his body and continue to fly with her in tandem. It seems that once the pair are in tandem, the female cooperates with the male and will curl the tip of her abdomen around so that they can mate. However, it seems that it is more a case of minimizing the damage than being receptive to his loving overtures. Many females afterwards have holes in their heads caused by the male’s iron hold and the spines of his appendages can damage their eyes. No wonder they are darting all over trying to escape the males!

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