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Posts Tagged ‘bluet damselfly’

When a Black and Yellow Garden Spider (Argiope aurantia) traps a prey in its web, it often moves so quickly to wrap it up completely that it is difficult to identify the prey. That was not the case with the damselfly that I spotted yesterday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge as it was being encased in a silken shroud.

The damselfly looks to be a bluet damselfly and if pressed, I’d guess that it might be a Familiar Bluet (Enallagma civile) or possibly a Big Bluet (Enallagma durum). The spider seems to be experiencing the same kind of problem that I encounter when I am trying to wrap an awkwardly-shaped present at Christmas time—it is hard to be neat and tidy, the process uses up lots of wrapping material, and the package always end up irregularly shaped and easy to identify.

spider and damselfly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

 

 

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It was a pleasant surprise to see this colorful Familiar Bluet damselfly (Enallagma civile) last Friday at Huntley Meadows Park. With the arrival of frigid weather, with temperatures at near-freezing levels at night, however, I fear that it will be my last damselfly sighting of the season.

When I first spotted this damselfly, I had my  Tamron 150-600mm zoom lens on my camera. I didn’t want to take my eyes off of the damselfly, for fear of losing sight of it in the underbrush, so I decided to make do with the long zoom lens. I quickly realized that I had a few obstacles to overcome. The minimum focusing distance of the lens is almost nine feet (2.7 meters), so I had to back up. At that distance the damselfly was so small that my autofocus did not want to lock onto it, so I was forced to focus manually, while handholding the lens at 600mm.

I ended up trying to do environmental portraits, rather then the close-ups that I generally prefer to take. I like the way that the seasonal coloration of the background helps the blue of the damselfly’s body really stand out, almost like it is an alien visitor in a foreign land.

Farewell, sweet damsels of the air, until we meet again in the spring.

Familiar Bluet

Familiar Bluet

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Looking at my recent postings, you might come to the conclusion that I neglect damselflies, the smaller, less colorful members of the Odonata family, in favor of dragonflies. Actually, I really like damselflies, but they are so small that it is difficult to see them most of the time and quite a challenge to get a clear shot of one.

As I was searching for dragonflies, I came upon this beautiful black and blue damselfly perched on a small branch near the edge of a muddy creek and was able to get an unobstructed shot. You might think that identification would be easy, but there is a whole group of damselflies, the bluets, whose members have various combinations of black and blue.

So far, I haven’t been able to identify this damselfly, but I find its combination of black and turquoise to be elegant and really attractive.

damsel_bnb_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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The length and small size of damselflies make then a challenge for me to photograph clearly. Moreover, it is my experience that they rarely choose to land in places where I can isolate them against an uncluttered background. Yesterday I was fortunate when this Bluet damselfly perched near the end of an interesting budded branch overhanging the water and I managed to get a shot that I like.

Bluets are a whole group of damselflies of the genus Enallagma that often are very difficult to identify down to the species level, so I don’t feel back that I can’t decide whether or not this is an Atlantic bluet or an American bluet or some other kind. Apparently the only way to tell them apart is to capture them and examine them with a magnifying glass. In my case, I am not sure a magnifying glass would help.

I am thinking of buying a guide to dragonflies and damselflies that I can study during the winter so that I’ll be better prepared next year to identify more correctly some of the subjects that I shoot (and I love to photograph dragonflies and damselflies, challenges notwithstanding.

Bluet damselfly in mid-September

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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