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Posts Tagged ‘Prince William County VA’

Last week as I was exploring Prince William County, I encountered this large dragonfly  perched in a tree overhanging a fairly large stream. When I captured these images, I was not sure what kind of dragonfly it was. After consultations with some experienced dragonfly experts, I learned that this is a female Dragonhunter dragonfly (Hagenius brevistylus).

Dragonhunters are among the largest dragonflies in our area. Unlike darners, another group of large dragonflies that fly almost continuously as they seek prey, dragonhunters prefer to perch and wait patiently before they strike. As their name suggests, they specialize in hunting other dragonflies, reportedly including members of their own species.

Dragonhunter

Dragonhunter

Dragonhunter

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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This past Wednesday I encountered a really cooperative Gray Petaltail dragonfly (Tachopteryx thoreyi) as I explored nearby Prince William County and was able to capture this tight head shot. I simply love this dragonfly’s beautiful gray eyes, which are a perfect for the monochromatic palette of the rest of its body and give this dragonfly a more sophisticated look than many of its more gaudily-clad brethren. (The coloration also helps this dragonfly to almost disappear from view when it is perched on a tree like this one.)

Gray Petaltail

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I have often thought that Comet Darner dragonflies (Anax longipes) are appropriately named for they have always been beautiful objects speeding by that I have been forced to admire from a distance. It is hard to miss a Comet Darner when they are around because they are very large and the red color on their bodies is so bright that it seems to glow. They generally patrol near the center of the ponds where I have seen them and I have never seen one stop to perch. According to the Dragonflies of Northern Virginia website, “Comets have expansive territories that may cover several miles and a network of small, shallow, forest-edged ponds. They’ll visit your pond, leave for 30 minutes to patrol other sites, then return.”

On Wednesday, I spotted a Comet Darner while I was at a small pond and started to track it in my camera’s viewfinder. Strangely this dragonfly was flying in and out of the vegetation growing in the shallow water, as you can see in the first shot. As I was trying to figure out what was going on, the Comet Darner dipped her abdomen in the water and began to deposit her eggs. If you look closely at the second image, it looks like she may actually have the tip of her abdomen submerged as she oviposited. I didn’t have a completely unobstructed view of this beautiful dragonfly, but I actually like the effect of the vegetation in the foreground—it helps to convey the sense that we are sharing a private moment.

Comet Darner

Comet Darner

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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