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Posts Tagged ‘spreadwing damselfly’

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.

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damselfly2_blog

Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Why does this damselfly have its wings in an open position? That was the question that popped into my mind when I first spotted this pretty little damselfly. As far as I knew, damselflies folded their wings together when they were at rest. A little research on the internet showed that there is a family of damselflies called Lestidae (more commonly known as Spreadwings) that hold their wings at an angle from their body when they are at rest.

I decided to show the same photo in two different ways. The first image is a cropped close-up and it lets you seem the facial expression and some additional details of the body, including the drops of water on the chest and legs. As you can see, one of the disadvantages of wings that are spread is that depth of field is a problem. The second view is the image more or less as I composed it in the view finder. It shows how really long and skinny the tails are for this type of damselfly. I think that this may be a Southern Spreadwing (Lestes australis), but I am not certain of the identification because there are other varieties that look similar.

Close-up shot of spreadwing damselfly

Full-body shot of spreadwing damselfly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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