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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

October dragons

Well, this feels a little strange.  I started learning about dragonflies in New England in the early 1990s.  But I've been living in California for over 12 years now, so I'm a little "rusty" when it comes to identifying some of the species in the northeastern U.S.  

We had a fun experience with a few darners yesterday (3 October 2017) near Alstead, New Hampshire.  We found a warm, sunny field where several darners were feeding.  They were flying a little slowly, perhaps because of cooler nighttime temperatures?  And somewhat surprisingly, when we stood still in the middle of the field, the dragonflies started flying very close to us (looking for insects?) and sometimes landing on us.

Here are two examples.  I'll hazard guesses to the species' identifications, but perhaps I can get some help from some New England friends to confirm the i.d.'s.  

Black-tipped Darner (Aeshna tuberculifera)? 

Mottled Darner (Aeshna clepsydra)? perched on my mother's fleece jacket!  The striped patterning on the thorax didn't quite fit the classic pattern for this species, but I'm not coming up with another idea (at least not yet).  Here's a close-up of the thoracic stripes:

Then Eric spotted another beautiful darner perched on an old birch tree at the edge of a boggy swamp:

How about Variable Darner (Aeshna interrupta) for this one?

Here's a close-up (dorsal view), with nice yellow highlights:

And in case you're interested in helping to confirm the identification of this species, here's another close-up, this time from the side so you can see the lateral thoracic stripes:

Fun with dragons in October!

ADDENDUM (5 October 2017): Blair confirmed all three of my identifications above, so you can now consider the identifications solid.  Thanks, Blair!


Sarah Gravem said...

We had thousands of termites embark on mating flights from under our deck a few weeks ago. There were a handful of dragonflies doing laps around the yard and snagging the termites in mid-air. The kids loved it! I don't know what kind they were and it was hard to see in the dusk, but they were fierce!

Jackie Sones said...

Hi, Sarah! Nice observation! On the East Coast, some dragonflies swarm in response to flights of ants. It's fun to see the dragonflies doing what they do so well!

:) Jackie