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Posts Tagged ‘Argia fumipennis violacea’

This stunning Variable Dancer damselfly (Argia fumipennis) was living life on the edge when I spotted him amidst the leaves last week during a trip to Green Spring Gardens with my good friend Cindy Dyer. Many of you probably realize that this violet-colored beauty is one of my favorites, given that my most frequently used banner image for this blog is a photo of a Variable Dancer. Perhaps there are other insects that are this color, but none come to mind.

As for the title of this post, consider it to be a sign of the times—the content could easily have gone in multiple directions.

variable dancer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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The genus Argia, commonly known as dancers, is a large New World group of damselflies. Although the genus name Argia, αργία in Ancient Greek, is translated as “idleness,” dancers are quite active and alert damselflies, according to Wikipedia. Why are they called “dancers?” They are known as dancers “because of the distinctive jerky form of flight they use which contrasts with the straightforward direct flight of bluets, forktails, and other pond damselflies.” I wonder if I am part damselfly, because “distinctive” and “jerky” are definitely adjectives that could be used to describe my attempts at dancing.

This past week, I have seen three different species of dancers. The first one, the Variable Dancer (Argia fumipennis violacea) has perhaps the most strikingly beautiful color of any of the dragonflies and damselflies that I have seen—I love that shade of violet. Some of my longtime readers may have noted that a photo of a Variable Dancer has been the banner image for this blog for many years.

The damselfly in the second image is a Blue-fronted Dancer (Argia apicalis). The thorax of the males of this species are almost completely blue, with only hairline stripes in the middle of their backs and shoulders.

The final damselfly is a Powdered Dancer (Argia moesta), our only mostly white damselfly. As you can see in the photo, members of this species often like to perch on stones at the edge of the water. I chose to leave this image mostly uncropped, because of the way that it shows the water moving around the stone and the submerged stones on the stream bottom in the background.

All of this talk of dancers brings to mind a country music song that I really like by Lee Ann Womack called “I Hope You Dance.” I am really touched by the basic message of the song—when you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance.

Here is the first verse of the song, just in case you have never heard it:

“I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance.”
(I Hope You Dance lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, Songtrust Ave)

Variable Dancer

Blue-fronted Dancer

Powdered Dancer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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I was thrilled yesterday to see that two of my favorite damselfly species, the Blue-fronted Dancer (Argia apicalis) and the Variable Dancer (Argia fumipennis) have reappeared at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge. It is definitely worth clicking on the images below in order to get a better look at the beautiful baby-blue color of the Blue-fronted Dancer and the spectacular purple of the Variable Dancer.

Blue-fronted Dancer

Variable Dancer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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On Friday I was delighted to capture this image of one of my favorite damselflies, the beautifully colored Variable Dancer (Argia fumipennis), while exploring Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge. The red and yellow colors of the vegetation are vaguely autumn-like, a reminder that the clock is ticking for the end of the dragonfly/damselfly season this year. If only I could slow down the passage of time.

Variable Dancer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

 

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On Monday I was thrilled to get a shot of one of my favorite damselflies at Occoquan Regional Park, the beautifully colored Violet Dancer (Argia fumipennis violacea), a subspecies of the Variable Dancer damselfly (Argia fumipennis). I love the color combination of this tiny beauty, a spectacular shade of violet on its body and the wonderful blue accents. Sharp-eyed viewers may have noted that a photo of this same type of damselfly has been my banner image for quite some time.

Violet Dancer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Not all people like to have insects perch on them, but I thought it was pretty cool when an inquisitive Variable Dancer damselfly (Argia fumipennis) landed on my hand Monday at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetlands Refuge. The real challenge was getting a photo of the damselfly shooting one-handed with my DSLR and 180mm macro lens.

Sharp-eyed readers may have recognized that this is the same species of damselfly as the one featured in my blog’s banner. I just love the beautiful purple markings of this damselfly, which is also known as a Violet Dancer (Argia fumipennis violacea), if you use the name of the sub-species.

It was interesting trying to get shots as I tried to hold my left hand still and slowly extended my arm out as far as it would go. The damselfly was relatively cooperative, but moved about a little as it explored my hand. Steadying my shooting hand was an even bigger challenge. Normally I like to try to get as close to parallel with a damselfly’s body as possible, so that most of it will be in focus, but that was not possible in this situation, given the anatomical limitations of the human body.

Looking at these images, I have reached a sad conclusion—I am going to have to give up on my dream of becoming a professional hand model.

Variable Dancer

Variable Dancer

Variable Dancer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Although I was still here in Northern Virginia, the colors and desolate character of the landscape surrounding this Variable Dancer damselfly (Argia fumipennis violacea) reminded me of the desert Southwestern portion of the United States. It looked almost like the damselfly was posing for a photo while perched at the edge of the Grand Canyon.

The reality was a little less exciting. I spotted this Variable Dancer during the 4th of July weekend while I was exploring Pohick Creek in Springfield, Virginia, only a few miles from where I live.

Variable Dancer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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How quickly can you change gears when a new subject unexpectedly presents itself? Can you make the necessary physical and mental adjustments to take advantage of a fleeting moment?

This past weekend I made another trip to Jackson Miles Abbott Wetlands Refuge at nearby Fort Belvoir, Virginia to search for dragonflies and damselflies. I didn’t see all that many dragonflies, but there seemed to be a lot of damselflies. I focused my attention and my camera on these tiny beauties, attempting to get close enough to fill as much of the frame as I could with them.

As I was getting close-up shots of what I believe is a Variable Dancer damselfly (Argia fumipennis violacea), I caught sight of some motion out of the corner of my eye and turned my head to see what it was. Here’s the subject on which I was concentration before I turned my head.

Variable Dancer

Looking up into the sky, I noticed a large bird approaching. At first I thought it might only be a seagull, but decided that I should take some shots in case it turned out to be a raptor. Obviously I was not going to have time to change lenses, so I quickly checked my camera settings and pointed my macro lens up into the sky and managed to get some shots of an osprey (Pandion haliaetus) as it slowly flew over the pond.

osprey

osprey

It’s amazing for me to look at these three photos and realize they were all taken at the same location within minutes of each other with the same lens and similar settings. The osprey images were cropped quite a bit more, but the details of the bird held up pretty well.

I tend to think of myself as an opportunistic shooter and this was definitely a case when I tested my ability to react quickly to a new subject. My trusty Tamron 180mm macro lens proved to be pretty capable too. The lens can sometimes be a bit noisy and slow when focusing and it has no built-in image stabilization, but as the osprey images show, it can capture some pretty nice in-flight shots under the right conditions.

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Yesterday on a photo expedition with some friends to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Virginia, I encountered a stunningly beautiful purple damselfly with gorgeous violet eyes that rival those of the late Elizabeth Taylor. I don’t think that I had ever seen a purple damselfly or dragonfly before and the striking purple color is wonderfully set off by its black markings and blue band at the end of its abdomen.

Fellow blogger and local  dragonfly expert Walter Sanford has identified this for me as a Violet Dancer damselfly (Argia fumipennis violacea), a subspecies of the Variable Dancer (Argia fumipennis).

purple_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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