Odonata

fragile forktail
A Fragile Forktail (Ischnura posita) emerges from its nympahal skin (exuvia) to commence the aerial portion of its life (there are two exuviae in this picture, one from a previously emerged forktail).

Since March 19 when I saw the first damselflies of the season emerging from the Wetlands, there have been five additional species of odonata seen.

The first Common Baskettail was seen the 30th of March. Blue Corporal and Common Whitetail were both observed on the 3rd of April and a male Common Green Darner on the 7th of the month. A Lancet Clubtail was seen on the Dinosaur Trail on the 10th of April.

basketail
A Common Baskettail (Epitheca cynosura) hovers above the water of the Wetlands. Or, is this a Slender Baskettail (E. costalis)?
blue corporal
A male Blue Corporal (Ladona deplanata) alights on the mulch at the base of a tree on the north side of the Wetlands.
cowtF
A Common Whitetail (Libellula lydia). This is a female, note the three black markings on each wing.
cowtM
This is a male Common Whitetail. Notice how its wing pattern differs from the female. This male has recently emerged, its “tail,” or abdomen, will whiten within a few hours time. It will also develop a bit of white on the wings.
lancet clubtail
A Lancet Clubtail (Gomphus exilis). Whereas many clubtails are restricted by habitat this early flier is a generalist and can be found along many streams, ponds, and lakes.

If all of the new arrivals isn’t enough to get you in the mood for going out and hunting down odes, the excitement heightened on April 9 and 10 when numbers of whitetails crawled from the water onto trees, logs, and rocks to shed their watery way of life for one on the wing. One nymph even hustled across the pavement in search of a safe spot to transform into an adult.

cowt nymph
This nymph was picked up while it hiked across the pavement in Explore the Wild.
cowt nymph
A nymph is settling in for its transformation to adulthood. Once a firm grip is obtained the skin will break open along the back and out will crawl a dragonfly. Of course, its wings and abdomen will have to expand and harden some before the first flight.
cowt nymph
A group of exuviae left behind by Common Whitetails as they morphed into dragonfly adults.
cowt teneral
This is a Common Whitetail just minutes before its first flight (note exuvia just below dragonfly). The wings are very shiny (and soft) on newly emerged individuals.

There’s always something exciting happening in Explore the Wild, but you have to be there to see it!

3 responses to Odonata

  1. Avatar
    Leslie says:

    I saw several dragonflies when I was camping down east in Bladen County over the weekend. I even saw a copulation wheel! It was very exciting.

    • Greg Dodge, Ranger
      Greg Dodge, Ranger says:

      Leslie,
      Bladen County, there’s a whole new set of characters down there. All the pines, tannic acid in the water, sandy-bottomed lakes and streams creates an entirely different set of conditions. You still get the generalist, but the potential for seeing some really neat odes is increased in that area, one of my favorite places.

      Wendy,
      Thanks. I saw yet another ode today (4/13/10). A fresh Eastern Pondhawk flew in front of me but I didn’t get a picture.

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