Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Dragonfly Tuesday

Here are three dragonflies. The first one, a dot-winged baskettail (Epitheca petechialis) has just emerged here from the nymph stage, leaving behind a discarded snakeskin-like husk which fell in the water. I had caught a glimpse of something shiny and struggling in the weeds of a pond edge. The dragonfly was covered with a membranous slime, like any newborn thing, when it got out of its old shell. As I watched it began to dry out and the wings unfold. I'd guess this is a fairly dangerous moment in a dragonfly's life, but nothing ate this one--at least while I was watching.

The next is a study in spininess--a sulphur-tipped clubtail (Gomphus militaris), resting on a prickly pear cactus pad.

Finally, a female blue-eyed darner (Rhionaeschna multicolor) or possibly a female turquoise-tipped darner (Rhionaeschna psilus), laying eggs. The females of these two species are nearly identical--and neither of them have eyes of blue or tips of turquoise. They can be told apart if you measure the length, but I am afraid I did not do that. The blue-eyed is more common.

A word about the name of the darner species: "Rhionaeschna" of course, refers the old Welsh goddess of shuttle-looms, whose consort Rhnghwwschngwn, god of coughs, or, acccording to some, the god of the glottal stop, was devoured by a swarm of angry vowels, causing the grief-stricken goddess to depart in perpetual mourning and assume her present form.

Click to enlarge any image.

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