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Sunday, September 9, 2012


Saturday morning I was a little sleepy, but I shuffled to the kitchen, put on some water for tea, went out to feed the birds, then walked down the driveway to check the mail.  

I put my hand on the chain to open the gate (our neighbor closes the gate to keep the deer out at night) and was startled awake when my hand felt something unfamiliar.  It felt somewhat papery and it rustled!

A dragonfly had chosen our gate as a roost site!  It was cool that morning, around 50°F, so this darner was not yet warm enough to fly.  When I awakened her, she fell to the ground.  I picked her up by gently pressing the wings together over her back and took these photos.

[You can tell that it's a female by the presence of an ovipositor (for laying eggs in plant stems).  Look for it on the underside of the next-to-last abdominal segment.  It looks like a small spine pointing downward.]

Here's a closer view of the head, thorax, and the first few segments of the abdomen.  Note that there is no black line across the "face" in front of the eyes.  This, along with the character below, identifies it as a Blue-eyed Darner (Rhionaeschna multicolor).

And an even closer shot (below).  Note that there is a small bump protruding from the bottom of segment 1.  This is important as this character helps identify this as a species of neotropical darner (Rhionaeschna spp.).

Another feature useful for identifying darners is the shape of the "T-spot", or the black marking on top of the forehead, just in front of the eyes (next photo).  And check out those beautiful lavender-blue eyes!

Here's a view from above.  Note that although the larger spots on the abdomen are purple, it's likely that their color changes with temperature, becoming bluer when warmer.

After photographing her, I let her perch on a small shrub.  Eventually she warmed up enough to fly off.

In May, I posted some images of a male California Darner (Rhionaeschna californica) in Bodega Bay.  To compare, review the post from 28 May 2012

CORRIGENDUM (10 September 2012): I have edited the original post to correct that this is a female Blue-eyed Darner (Rhionaeschna multicolor), rather than a California Darner.  Kathy Biggs looked at the photos and said that the lack of a black line across the face confirms this as a Blue-eyed Darner.

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