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Posts Tagged ‘Blue Corporal dragonfly’

I was thrilled yesterday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge to spot my first Blue Corporal dragonfly (Ladona deplanata) of the season. This little dragonfly—about 1.4 inches (36 mm) in length—is one of the earliest dragonflies to reappear each spring in my area and was one of my target species for the day.

If you look carefully at the upper part of the thorax (the “shoulders”) you can see the two light-colored stripes, the traditional military insignia for a corporal, that are responsible for the name of this species. Blue Corporals most often perch flat on the ground, which can make them really hard to spot when they land. In this case, the ground was so cluttered with dried reeds that I could barely detect the dragonfly’s wings. (You can see the wings more easily if you click on the image to enlarge it.)

Blue Corporal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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One of the earliest dragonflies to emerge in the spring in our area is the Blue Corporal (Ladona deplanata). Adult males are bluish in color and both the male and the female have two white stripes on their thoraxes in an area that you might think of as their shoulders. In the military of the United States, the rank insignia for corporals is two stripes, which accounts for that portion of the common name for the species.

The dragonfly in the first photo is a female Blue Corporal. She will remain that tan color for her entire life. If you look closely at the very tip of her abdomen (the “tail”) and compare it with the same area of the dragonfly in the second image, you can probably see some physiological differences. This is often the best way to tell the gender of a dragonfly.

The dragonfly in the second photo is a newly emerged male Blue Corporal, a stage known as teneral. During this stage, the wings are very clear and shiny and are very fragile. As the male matures, he will gradually turn bluish in color. His corporal stripes may turn light blue and eventually fade away.

You probably noted that the male Blue Corporal is perched flat on the ground—this is the most frequent perching position for this species. I was a little surprised that the female in the first photo was perching vertically a few inches above the ground, but I am not complaining, because it gave me a better chance to get a photo of her wings.

It is still a bit early in the season for dragonflies, so I was really happy to spot these two on Wednesday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is still open and there were a number of other cars in the parking lot when I arrived. All of the other visitors, though, seemed to be either birding or walking in other areas of the refuge, leaving me the chance to muck about at the edge of a small pond all by myself, safely distanced from human contact.

Blue Corporal

Blue Corporal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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On the last day of April I spotted a Blue Corporal dragonfly (Ladona deplanata) that was newly emerged and was not yet blue. This past Friday I went back to the same location at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge and found a young male Blue Corporal that had already gained his blue coloration.

Additionally, he was now perching on some vegetation rather than on the ground, which allowed me to get a more artistic shot—I really like the arc of the vegetation and how it helped make for an interesting composition.

Blue Corporal

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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It’s taken a while, but I have finally spotted my first locally-born dragonfly of the season. Previously I had seen some Common Green Darner dragonflies, which were probably migrants from the south, but on Monday, the last day of April, I spotted this newly-emerged Blue Corporal dragonfly (Ladona deplanata) at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

I did not get a really good angle for this shot, so I can’t be absolutely certain of the dragonfly’s gender, but I think that it may be a male. One of the tricky things about identifying the gender of dragonflies is that immature males often look similar in coloration to females. If this is a male its abdomen will eventually turn blue in color, which helps explain the first part of the species name. As for the “corporal,” I have been told that this is a reference to the two whitish lines on the dragonfly’s thorax that resemble the two stripes that corporals wear as their rank insignia in the US Army.

The weather is warming up and I expect to be seeing a whole lot more dragonflies in the upcoming weeks and months. Unlike this Blue Corporal, some of them will perch above the ground rather than on in, which should permit me to get some more photogenic shots. Our weather this spring has been a bit crazy and the emergence of dragonflies seems to have been delayed, but with this spotting I can confidently state that the dragonfly season has started for me.

Blue Corporal dragonfly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Some of the common species of dragonflies are around throughout much of the summer. Other dragonflies, sometimes referred to as “spring ephemeral” dragonflies,  are around for only brief periods of time in the early spring, like this male Blue Corporal dragonfly (Ladona deplanata) that I spotted last week on the boardwalk at my local marsh.

I had never seen this species before, but fortunately my fellow blogger and local dragonfly expert, Walter Sanford, was able to assist me with the identification. Check out his blog to see some awesome shots of dragonflies and other nature subjects.

I would love to be able to photograph this species the next time in a more natural environment, but I am pretty excited any time I have the chance to get a recognizable photo of a new species.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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