Today I’ve been photographing dragonflies in Diemer Vijfhoek 🙂 I still don’t have a macro lens; these were taken with XF18-135 and all are cropped. Anyway, here are four beautiful dragonflies and some brief information about them. Hope you’ll like!
(1) Vagrant darter (Sympetrum vulgatum) – male
Quick fact: It hovers and then, as the name suggests, darts out to surprise its prey. Then they take their catch to a favoured perch to eat it. Very similar to the Common darter (Sympetrum striolatum), but it has a “hanging” mustache.
(2) Black-tailed skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum) – male
Quick fact: It’s a narrow-bodied, medium-sized, straight-sided dragonfly. It can be seen flying low over the bare gravel and mud around flooded gravel pits and reservoirs, before landing on the bare shore to rest in the sun.
(3) Migrant hawker (Aeshna mixta) – male
Quick fact: It’s not a particularly aggressive species, and may be seen feeding in large groups. Hawkers are the largest and fastest flying dragonflies; they catch their prey mid-air and can hover or fly backwards, although the Migrant hawker is smaller than other hawkers.
(4) Black-tailed skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum) – I’m not sure, it’s either an immature male or a female
Quick fact: They breed in very large number in newly flooded gravel pits. (See also above.)
Damselflies! Click to view slideshow:
Dragonflies and damselflies are closely related, both are part of the insect order Odonata. However, they are not the same! Odonata includes about 5,900 species of which about 3,000 are dragonflies (suborder Epiprocta, infraorder Anisoptera) and about 2,600 are damselflies (suborder Zygoptera).
Here are five differences to look for:
★ Size: Dragonflies are generally much larger. The most common dragonfly in The Netherlands (Ruddy darter) is 3.4-3.6 cm long and has a wingspan of 6 cm. The most common damselfly in The Netherlands (Blue-tailed damselfly) is 2.7-3.5 cm long and has a wingspan of 3.5 cm.
→ Fun fact: the largest extinct dragonfly had a wing span of 70-75 cm (roughly 30 inches)!
★ Eyes: Dragonflies have much larger eyes than damselflies, their eyes take up most of the head and they are wrapped around from the side to the front of the face which kind of makes it look like dragonflies are wearing snow goggles. Damselflies also have large eyes, but the eyes are clearly separated and appear on each side of the head. →See picture below!
★ Body shape: Dragonflies have bulkier, stocky bodies that appear shorter and thicker. Damselflies have long and slender bodies.
★ Wing shape: Both dragonflies and damselflies have two sets of wrings, but the shapes are different. Dragonflies have hind wings that broaden at the base, which makes them larger than the front wings. Damselflies have wings that are the same size and shape for both sets, and they taper down as they join the body, thus becoming quite narrow as they connect.
★ Position of the wings when resting: Dragonflies hold their wings out perpendicular to their bodies when resting, so they look like small airplanes. Damselflies fold their wings up and hold them together across the top of their backs, from a distance they kind of look like a very thin safety match.
Today I want to share FIVE FUN FACTS about dragonflies 🙂 A beautiful Common darter lady (Sympetrum striolatum) kindly agreed to demonstrate the facts in my pictures!
★ FACT 1: They were the first insects to inhabit this planet – 300 million years ago! In other words: they’ve had a looong time to perfect the art of flying and hunting.
★ FACT 2: They’re flat out terrifying if you’re a mosquito or other kind small bug, because they don’t simply chase down their prey but they snag them from the air with a calculated aerial ambush! Dragonflies can judge the speed and trajectory of a prey target, and they’re so skilled they have an impressive 95% success rate when hunting.
★ FACT3: They can fly in any direction, including sideways and backwards! (How cool is that!) Plus, they can hover in a single spot for a minute or more. But that’s not all. They’re also fast – some species reach almost 30 km/h (18 mph) – and one species (Globe skimmer) flies almost 18,000 km (11,000 miles) during migration which is the world’s longest insect migration. (Compare this with the famous Monarch butterfly migration of 2,500 miles.)
★ FACT 4: Both dragonflies and damselflies are in the order Odonata, which means “the toothed ones”. When hunting, they can catch the prey with their feet, tear off its wings with their sharp jaws (so the prey can’t escape) and scarf it down – all without needing to land. In short: Their ability to rip apart their prey takes their predatory prowess to another level.
Update: It should be noted that dragonflies don’t bite humans and they don’t have any stinger! i.e. they cause no harm to humans. (Thanks for pointing this out, Greta)
★ They have nearly 360 degrees vision! The enormous compound eyes contain 30,000 facets and they can see the world in colors we can’t even imagine. (In depth read here)
Update: It’s also worth mentioning that dragonflies have a significant, positive ecological impact. In its nymph stage, they eat harmful aquatic organisms and thus help keep our waters clean. The nymph can contribute to the ecosystem for up to five years before becoming a mature adult! As adults, they mainly help humans by eating mosquitoes and other insects that spread diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, anthrax, etc.
First week of October, but I still found some small bugs to photograph- A crane fly, a dragonfly, a butterfly 🙂
An Eight-Spotted Skimmer dragonfly, seen in Stanley Park in Vancouver
Yesterday I went back to the ‘damselfly-mating-tree’, but it was empty. But further down the canal there was another tree, and it was full of damselflies! While I was studying them, a dragonfly couple came flying in tandem. Next to the damselflies they looked massive. I tried to get a shot but they chose a branch of the tree on the other side (over the water) so I couldn’t get close. Luckily, they eventually moved to the grass (yes! on the “right” side of the canal, I’m so lucky!) and I could take a picture of them. They are Ruddy Darter dragonflies, in Dutch they’re called “Bloedrode heidelibel” but only the male is blood-red and the female more yellowish.
f/14 – 1/60 – ISO 400 – 60
Today, for the first time the whole summer, I finally spotted a dragonfly! A male Ruddy Darter who posed for several minutes on the grass. To say I was happy is a huge understatement, I was so thrilled I could barely hold my camera still!
Top: f/4 – 1/100 – ISO 200 – 60
Bottom: f/8 – 1/60 – ISO 800 – 60