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Posts Tagged ‘Enallagma civile’

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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A bittersweet feeling at times envelops me at this time of the year as I photograph some summer species, never knowing for sure if it will be the last time I see them until next year.

This past Friday I spotted a tiny female Familiar Bluet damselfly (Enallagma civile), a species that I haven’t seen in months. I had almost forgotten how small these damselflies are, about 1.1 to 1.5 inches (29-39mm) in total length. Despite their diminutive size, they have wonderful colors and markings and I was thrilled to be able to be able to capture some of that beauty with my macro lens.

Will I see another Familiar Bluet? I will keep looking in familiar places, hoping for yet another rendezvous, for one more chance for a final farewell.

Familiar Bluet

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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We usually think of springtime as the season of love, but apparently autumn is also a good season if you are a damselfly. I don’t know what was so special about this one plant sticking out of the water, but mating damselfly couples seemed to be competing for a spot to land and deposit their eggs on it this past Monday at Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria, Virginia.

I’m no expert when it comes to identifying damselflies, in part because so many different species have similar patterns of black and blue, but I think these couples, all in the tandem position, may be Big Bluets (Enallagma durum). I’d welcome any corrections or confirmation of my initial identification.

UPDATE:  My local odonate expert, Walter Sanford, weighed in with a correction to my identification—these damselflies are Familiar Bluets (Enallagma civile), not Great Bluets. When it comes to my initial identification, you might say that I blew it.

For those who might be curious about the technical aspects of the photo, I took this with my Canon 50D at 600mm on my Tamron 150-600mm lens, which is the equivalent of 960mm when you take into account the crop sensor of my camera. I continue to be pleased with the amount of detail that I can capture with the relatively affordable long lens, even when it’s extended to its maximum length. If you click on the image, you can see even more of those wonderful details.

mating damselflies

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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