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Posts Tagged ‘Lestes rectangularis’

Although many damselflies are tiny in size and difficult to spot from a distance, spreadwing damselflies are a notable exception. Spreadwing damselflies tend to be quite a bit larger than other damselflies and they rest with their wings partly open in the “spreadwing” posture that gives the family its common name. (Most other damselflies rest with their wings held closed, usually above their abdomen, which makes them harder to see and to photograph.)

When I flushed this damselfly yesterday at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge, I was immediately struck by the length of its body—it seemed to be really long and skinny.  The spreadwing family is not all that big, but I still had trouble identifying the species of the damselfly. As is usually the case in this kind ofsituation, I turned to my local expert, fellow dragonfly enthusiast and blogger Walter Sanford, who identified it as a female Slender Spreadwing damselfly (Lestes rectangularis).  I sometimes complain about the inappropriateness of the names of species, but in this case “slender spreadwing” is a perfect match for the subject that I observed.

In case you are curious about the photo, I shot it with my Tamron 150-600mm telephoto zoom lens on my Canon 50D DSLR. Over the winter I have become accustomed to using a monopod for stability and for this shot, I lowered the monopod and shot while kneeling. One of the limitations of the lens is that the minimum focusing distance is almost 9 feet (274 cm). At that distance, the camera’s autofocus system had trouble locking on the slender body of the damselfly—it kept focusing on the vegetation—so I resorted to manual focusing.

Most people are more familiar with dragonflies than with damselflies, but I encourage you to slow down and search for beautiful damselflies, the smaller members (in most cases) of the order of Odonata to which dragonflies also belong.

 

Slender Spreadwing

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Two things really struck me when I first encountered this damselfly—its captivating blue eyes and its extraordinarily long abdomen.

Most damselfly fold in their wings when they are at rest, but damselflies of the Lestidae family keep them open and are commonly known as spreadwings. Only two members of this family are on the species list for my marshland park—the Swamp and the Slender Spreadwing—and this looks to me like might be a male Slender Spreadwing damselfly (Lestes rectangularis).

I would welcome a correction or confirmation of my identification, because I feel almost clueless when it comes to identifying damselflies.

damsel_blue1_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I featured this Slender Spreadwing damselfly (Lestes rectangularis) in an earlier posting in a series of action shots, but thought this more formal portrait deserved a posting of its own.

As I stalked this beautiful little dragonfly, it moved to a number of different perches and it is interesting to see how the background shifted in terms of color palette and clutteredness (I think I may have just created a new word). In the gymnastics shots of this damselfly, the background was bright and colorful and a little busy, whereas the background here is darker and a bit more moody, with just a hint of colors. Be sure to click on the image to see a higher resolution view of this little damselfly that was probably less than 2 inches ( 50 mm) long.

Those of you who like to observe damselflies know that this species is an exception to the general rule that damselflies, unlike dragonflies, hold their wing close into and parallel to their bodies when at rest. My fellow photographer and blogger, Walter Sanford, an expert on dragonflies, was the one who first spotted this damselfly and you should check out his blog for lots of wonderful wildlife photos, including a recent image of a perched Wandering Glider dragonfly, a species that never seems to land.damsel_spread_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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As I was observing this Slender Spreadwing damselfly (Lestes rectangularis) earlier this week, it suddenly launched into a series of acrobatic maneuvers worthy of an Olympic gymnast on the high bar. I captured several action shots of the routine, possibly related to laying eggs, although I managed my clearest shot when the damselfly returned to its starting position and waited for the scores from the judges.

Pointing the toes for maximum extension

Pointing the toes for maximum extension

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Swinging back to generate greater velocity for the next trick

Finishing up the routine

Finishing up the routine

Waiting for the scores from the judges

Waiting for the scores from the judges

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Walking through the woods today at my local marshland park, I managed to photograph my first damselfly of the spring, what appears to be some type of spreadwing damselfly, possibly a Slender Spreadwing (Lestes rectangularis).

My camera was already on my tripod, with my 135-400mm zoom lens attached, when the damselfly flew by and perched on a thorny vine right in front of me. I decided to try to get a shot and the first thing that I had to do was to back up, because the minimum focusing distance of the lens at full extension is 7.2 feet (2.2 meters). Secondly I had to switch to manual focus—the damselfly is so slender that my camera refused to autofocus on it. Finally, I had to adjust the aperture manually, when I realized that there was a lot of direct light falling on the vine and on the damselfly.

The two shots that I am posting may look like they were taken using flash, with an almost black background, but the damselfly was in a little pocket of light and the rest of the area was pretty heavily shaded.

damselfly_blog

damselfly2_blog

Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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