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Posts Tagged ‘male Eastern Pondhawk’

Normally a dragonfly’s abdomen is straight. Occasionally, though, I encounter one with an abdomen that has a noticeable curve, like this male Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly (Erythemis simplicicollis) that I spotted yesterday at Jackson Miles Abbott Wetland Refuge. (For those of you not familiar with dragonfly anatomy, the upper portion of the body is the thorax and the lower two-thirds is the abdomen.)

I suspect that the curvature was the result of a problem that occurred when the dragonfly was first emerging. It does not seem to have any effect on his ability to fly or to catch prey, but it might pose a problem when he attempts to mate.

Eastern Pondhawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Frequent viewers of this blog have probably noticed that I am doing a little series of postings featuring common dragonflies that at first glance might look similar. Today’s “star” is a mature male Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis). Like several other dragonflies in recent postings, the Eastern Pondhawk has a primarily blue body, but several characteristics make it possible to distinguish this species from others.

Both the male and female Eastern Pondhawks have green faces and the male has distinctive white terminal appendages, i.e. those little protrusions at the end of the abdomen (the “tail). Dragonfly specialists spend a lot of time focusing on those appendages, because immature males often have the same coloration as females. In this case, an immature male Eastern Pondhawk would be green with black bands on the abdomen. For the sake of comparison, I am including a photo I took on the same day of a female Eastern Pondhawk. If you compare the tips of the “tails” of the male and the female, you should be able to see the anatomical differences between the genders.

Although it doesn’t help in identifying them, I can’t help but note that Eastern Pondhawks are voracious predators. I think that I have captured more photos of Eastern Pondhawks feeding on other insects that of any other species. When I captured this image last week, I had no idea that the dragonfly was devouring a damselfly. If you click on the image to enlarge it and look just to the left of the dragonfly’s head, you will notice a set of small wings. As you look more closely, you can see the damselfly’s body hanging vertically just below the dragonfly’s head. Yikes!

Eastern Pondhawk

Eastern Ponndhawk

 

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I don’t know about you, but if I were an insect with large, fragile wings, I think that I would avoid perching on vegetation with large thorns. This male Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly (Erythemis simplicicollis), however, is obviously bolder and more skilled than I am. With precision flying skills matching the parking abilities of an inner city driver, he has managed to squeeze into a space that seems barely large enough to accommodate him.

Pointless perching—that seems to be the point.

Eastern Pondhawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

 

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Male Eastern Pondhawk dragonflies (Erythemis simplicicollis) start out with the same bright green coloration and bold black and white stripes as the female that I featured in a posting earlier this week. Over time the males turn a fairly nondescript blue and are outshone by their female counterparts.

On Monday, I was fortunate to capture this image of a male Eastern Pondhawk in a transitional  stage, with beautiful two-toned shades of green and blue. I was thrilled when it perched on a green plant, which helps to draw the viewer’s eye to the dragonfly in a background of dried-up fallen leaves.

Eastern Pondhawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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