Dragonflies and Damselflies

Eastern Pondhawk

I had some female competition for my husband’s attention last weekend. A female Eastern Pondhawk landed on his chest and hung out for quite some time.

DSC_3674dragonfly on Paul

I went off to fetch my camera, expecting her to be gone by the time I returned, but she was still there. Normally with their 360 vision, they spot my camera and off they go, but this one was quite at home hanging out with my husband. Apparently this species often perch on the ground and can be quite unwary.

DSC_3494Female eastern pondhawk

Females and young males are both green. The terminal appendages, at the end of the tail, are wider with the females, so I wonder if this one is a male, but I am not sure.  The males actually have three terminal appendages, that are used to grab and hold the female during mating. There are two upper appendages and one lower appendage. The females only have two upper terminal appendages that have no function.

DSC_2018female eastern pondhawk

This out of focus image does show how the female terminal appendages are spaced wider. Often I find I am so busy trying to get the face in focus and then other details I want to see later are out of focus. The small window before they fly off doesn’t give me much time to capture it all, but fails like this one are sometimes helpful!

I love seeing these beautiful, welcome predators that consume thousands of blackflies, deerflies and mosquitoes. However, they also eat damselflies and even dragonflies. They certainly earn the name ‘hawk’ and can catch and subdue insects heavier than themselves.

DSC_2016Eastern Pondhawk

They belong to a group of dragonflies called skimmers. They have large compound eyes that come together at the centre of the head, giving the appearance that they are wearing a helmet.

DSC_3471male eastern pondhawk

Here you can see how the male terminal appendages are closer together than the females.  The males become bluish grey with maturity. Gradually the green transforms into a duller shade of blue and finally a powdery bluish-grey.

DSC_3458male eastern pondhawk

This species is one of the first to appear here in May and the last of the dragonflies of the season, staying until early October, although they peak in July and August. They like vegetated shorelines near meadows, so we are a perfect location for them.

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