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Saturday, May 2, 2015


A male Western River Cruiser (Macromia magnifica) photographed on Pine Flat Road in Healdsburg, CA, on 2 May 2015.

I had a funny experience with this species today.  I was walking along Pine Flat Road when a dragonfly shadow passed by.  I looked up to see a very large dragonfly patrolling along the road.  It was so large that its size caught my attention.  I thought, "Well, that's larger than most darners so it's either a darner I don't see very often or it's something else."

Luckily, the dragonfly landed. I didn't have my binoculars or camera at the time, so I ran back to the car for the camera, ran back to the site where the dragonfly was perched, and snapped a few shots just before it flew off.

When I was taking the pictures, I could tell that it was a river cruiser   an exciting observation for me, as it's my first in Sonoma County, and this is one of my favorite groups of dragonflies.

There are only 7 species of river cruisers in North America, and this is the only species found west of the Rocky Mountains.

At home, I tried to learn a little more about Western River Cruisers online.  One of the first web pages I found was Don Roberson's where he said this:

"It is quite large — 3 inches long with a 4 inch wingspan — and thus is larger than all darners, except Giant Darner..."

Don's description made me smile because it was exactly what stood out to me upon first seeing a Western River Cruiser flying down the road.

Things to look for in the picture above: extremely long legs; large gray eyes; a single yellow stripe on the side of the thorax; pale leading edges of the wings; broad terminal abdominal segments, giving it a clubbed appearance; a slight arch to the abdomen.  These are elegant dragonflies!


Kathy Biggs said...

Wonderful to read all this Jackie. and that Western River Cruiser is the first one to be reported this year!!
Kathy Biggs
Ps. more about this species on my website (URL below)

Jackie Sones said...

Hi, Kathy! Thanks for the comment, and the info about the first Macromia sighting of the season!

It looks like your website address was left off, so here it is:

California Dragonflies and Damselflies -- http://bigsnest.members.sonic.net/Pond/dragons/