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Posts Tagged ‘Fragile Forktail’

I had forgotten how small Fragile Forktail damselflies (Ischnura posita) are until I spotted one perched in some vegetation last week while I was exploring at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge. Even by damselfly standards, Fragile Forktails are tiny at only .8 to 1.1 inches (21-29 mm) in length. The good news is that they are relatively easy to identify, because they have pale interrupted shoulder stripes that look like exclamation points.

I love how the green of the damselfly’s thorax and in its eyes match the soft green palette of the rest of the image. For me, there is something really soothing about this simple portrait of a tiny damselfly.

Fragile Forktail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I finally photographed my first damselflies of the spring on Wednesday during during a brief visit to Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge. I spotted the female Eastern Forktail damselfly (Ischnura verticalis) in the first image as she perched on a log in a mini-wetland area adjacent to a small pond. In addition to capturing the damselfly itself, I am really happy with the way that the texture of the bark and the interplay of the light and shadows turned out in the shot.

The second shot shows a male Fragile Forktail damselfly (Ischnura posita), one of the few damselflies that I am able to identify with a relatively high degree of confidence. On males of this species (and most females too), the shoulder stripe is interrupted and looks like an exclamation point. I like the way that the muted colors of the dried-out vegetation on which this damselfly was perched  help to make its colors stand out and draw a viewer’s eyes to the main subject.

I will almost certainly get more and better shots of damselflies in the upcoming months, but there is something special about stopping for a moment to celebrate images of my first damselflies each year.

Eastern Forktail

Fragile Forktail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Some of the photos in recent postings have shown that damselflies are incredibly flexible. Normally they demonstrate this flexibility when mating with a partner.

Earlier this week I spotted this damselfly, which I believe is a male Fragile Forktail (Ischnura posita), doing a solo gymnastics exhibition. The acrobatic damselfly repeatedly would swing its body backwards (second photo) and them end up with the tip of his abdomen between his legs (first photo). What was he doing?

According to my local dragonfly/damselfly expert Walter Sanford, damselflies are quite fastidious and will often spend time grooming themselves. That is what appears to be happening in these photos.

Who knew? It is not what I would have guessed—sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. 🙂

Fragile Forktail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Odonata is an order of insects that includes dragonflies and damselflies. In general, dragonflies tend to be larger and perch with their wings held out to the sides, while damselflies are smaller, have more slender bodies, and most  hold their wings over the body at rest. I try to pay attention to members of both damselflies and dragonflies, but often spend more time with the latter group, because they are easier to find and photograph.

In the interest of equality, I decided to devote today’s post to some of the female Fragile Forktail damselflies (Ischnura posita) that I have observed this past week. The three images show female Fragile Forktails in three of their main activities—perching, eating, and ovipositing (laying eggs). I have no recent shots of the mating that precedes the ovipositing, so I will leave that to your imagination for now.

As you probably noted, the coloration of these lady damselflies varies. The damselfly in the first image with the distinctive markings is an immature female. As the females age, they acquire a bluish coating that is sometimes referred to as pruinescence, which you can especially see in the second image. The third image shows a damselfly arching her long abdomen as she deposits eggs in the debris floating on the surface of a small pond.

Fragile Forktail

Fragile Forktail

Fragile Forktail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I’m still looking for my first dragonfly of the season, but was thrilled yesterday afternoon when I spotted my first damselfly, a Fragile Forktail (Ischnura posita), at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge. In anticipation of seeing one of these small insects, I mounted my Tamron 180mm macro lens on my camera, a lens that has gone largely unused during the long winter months in favor of my telephoto zoom lens.

Yesterday was a nice reminded of how much I enjoy using a macro lens. (To give you a sense of scale, a Fragile Forktail damselfly is about 0.8-1.1 inches in length (21-29mm).)

 

Fragile Forktail

Fragile Forktail

Fragile Forktail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As I drove back yesterday from Georgia to Northern Virginia, an almost 800 mile drive (1287 km),  I stopped at a rest area on I-95 in North Carolina. Noting that there was a small man-made pond, I decided to investigate for odes and spotted this damselfly. One of the experts in the Southeaster Odes Facebook Group helped to identify this beauty as a female Fragile Forktail damselfly (Ischnura posita).

It’s a whole lot cooler in Northern Virginia than it was in Georgia and North Carolina, so I suspect that I will have to wait a month or two for damselflies and dragonflies to emerge here. With this sneak preview, I can hardly wait.

fragile forktail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It’s still a bit early for dragonflies in Northern Virginia, but when temperatures soared to almost 80 degrees (27 degrees C) yesterday in Columbus, Georgia, I decided to see if I could find some here. I had a wonderful time exploring some of the area of the Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center that is not far from Fort Benning, where I was staying.

I came up empty-handed for dragonflies, but did spot some beautiful little damselflies. Later in the spring, these will be fairly common, but after a long period with no odonates, they seem rare and exotic.

The first one looks like a Fragile Forktail damselfly (Ischnura posita), but I am not sure about the others. Several of them flew so weakly that I wondered if they had only recently emerged.

Fragile Forktail

damselfly

damselfly

damselfly

damselfly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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As I turned to photograph a tiny damselfly perched on an overhanging branch, it flew down to the water. Initially I was disappointed, but then I looked more closely through my camera’s viewfinder. The male Fragile Forktail (Ischnura posita) had landed on a floating leaf and had assumed a pose that made it look like he was riding a surfboard. As a bonus, I was able to capture a fascinating area of bubbles in the algae in the foreground of the image.

Fragile Forktail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I haven’t taken very many damselfly photos this summer, in part because often I have been attempting to shoot dragonflies with my long telephoto lens. That lens has a minimum focusing distance of almost nine feet (2.7 meters) and it’s hard to see and focus on a tiny damselfly at that distance.

This past weekend, however, I was using my 180mm macro lens and was happy to be able to capture some images of this beautiful female Fragile Forktail damselfly (Ischnura posita) during a trip to Lilypons Water Gardens in Adamstown, Maryland.

Damselflies are really small, but they pack a lot of beautiful details and colors into that tiny package. This particular species is special to me this year, because way back in April a female Fragile Forktail was the first damselfly that I spotted this season and presented in this posting.

Fragile Forktail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This past weekend I managed to get my first damselfly shot of the season of what appears to be a pretty little female Fragile Forktail (Ischurna posita). Like the Springtime Darner dragonfly that I featured in yesterday’s posting, this photo was taken at Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria, Virginia. Fragile Forktail damselflies are only about one inch (25 mm) in length and it was my eagle-eyed fellow odonata enthusiast, Walter Sanford, who first spotted this tiny damselfly.

Fragile Forktail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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It’s hard to imagine a simpler composition—a tiny damselfly in the green growth of the marsh—but I find real beauty and power in this image.

Look closely at this damselfly, which I think is a female Fragile Forktail (Ischnura posita), and you will see some amazing colors and details, all packed into a body that is only about an inch long.

Click on the image to see a higher resolution view of the image.

Fragile Forktail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Damselflies are beautiful, delicate insects that are often hard to see and photograph. I captured this image of my first damselfly of the year at Huntley Meadows Park this past Friday. I am not very good at identifying these tiny insects, but think this might be a Fragile Forktail (Ischnura posita).

I was standing my the edge of my favorite beaver pond when I saw the damselfly in flight. I followed it with my eyes and was delighted when it landed on a nearby stalk of grass. I didn’t have a lot of maneuver, because much of the area at the pond’s edge is covered with thorny bushes, and I had to pull back a bit to get within the minimum focusing distance of my 70-300mm telephoto lens , i.e. 4.9 feet (1.5 meters). At that range, the dragonfly filled a reasonable amount of the frame.

Lighting was a bit of a challenge and I tried a couple of different settings as the damselfly lifted its tail from time to time. Eventually, it climbed to the end of the stalk and I changed position too and tried a couple of shots (including the final shot) using my pop-up flash.

Most of the time the first shot below is my favorite, but sometimes I like the others as well or more. In any case, I am happy that I was able to get some good shots of my first damselfly of the spring.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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