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Posts Tagged ‘Argia tibialis’

On Friday I spotted this female Blue-tipped Dancer damselfly (Argia tibialis) alongside a creek in Prince William County, Virginia. The fallen leaves provided a nice backdrop for the damselfly and remind me that the days of the summer are numbered.

Some of you undoubtedly noticed that there is no blue tip on this Blue-tipped Dancer. As is often the case for species names for insects (and for birds too), the name applies primarily to the males of the species. There is, however, some variety among female Blue-tipped Dancers, with a blue variant, as seen below, and a brown variant.

Blue-tipped Dancer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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When photographing a subject, how important are the surroundings to you? Most of you know that I like close-up shots and often I zoom in or crop to the point where you don’t have a good sense of the environment.

This past weekend, I went for a walk along the Potomac River (on the Virginia side) and observed a lot of damselflies. I had my Tamron 150-600mm lens on my camera and soon realized that I had a problem—even at the minimum focusing distance (approximately 9 feet/2.7 meters), there was no way that I could fill the frame with a damselfly.

Still, I was drawn to the beauty of the damselflies, which I believe are Blue-tipped Dancers (Argia tibialis), and I took quite a few shots of them.

As I reviewed the images on my computer, I realized how much I liked the organic feel of the natural surroundings. In the first shot, there are lots of vines on the surface of the rock on which the damselfly is perched that add texture and visual interest. In the second shot, I love the twist in the vine and the single leaf hanging down.

All in all, the surroundings on these two shots were so interesting that I didn’t feel any desire to crop the images more severely, and the environment has become just as much the subject as the damselfly. It’s probably worth remembering this the next time when I am tempted to move in really close to a subject—I should at least attempt to get some environmental shots too.

UPDATE:  It looks like my initial identification was off—there are lots of blue damselflies and this one more probably is a Big Bluet (Enallagma durum). Thanks to my local odonata expert, Walter Sanford, for the assist.

Blue-tipped Dancer

Blue-tipped Dancer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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When damselflies are connected in the tandem mating position, they are large enough to be noticed, especially when they fly right by me, as was the case this past Friday. They were pretty skittish, but I managed to get a couple of relatively clear shots.

My identification task was greatly eased by the fact that these were not one of the multiple blue species that inhabit my local marshland park—there was only a little blue on the tip of the male’s abdomen. Imagine my shock when I learned that these damselflies are Blue-tipped Dancers (Argia tibialis). In my experience, names generally are not that helpful when it comes to identification, but this is an obvious exception.

Sharp-eyed readers may notice that these damselflies look a bit like the one currently featured in the banner of my blog. That damselfly is a Violet Dancer, a subspecies of the Variable Dancer species (Argia fumipennis). Apparently damselflies do a lot of dancing!

If you are interested in seeing some photos and descriptions of the bluet family of damselflies at our local park, check out this recent posting by fellow blogger and photographer Walter Sanford entitled Blue for Bluets.

Blue-tipped Dancer

Blue-tipped Dancer

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

 

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