The wing pattern of a male Widow Skimmer (Libellula luctuosa) is distinctive among New England dragonflies. No other species has broad dark patches at the base of the wings bordered by white bands. Females and immature males have similarly patterned wings, minus the white bands, and have black-and-yellow striped abdomens, unlike the blue/gray abdomen of an adult male. Widow Skimmers breed in still-water wetlands, but may forage well away from water. They're most active in New England during the warm months of June, July and August.
To view the following images in full-size, click here.
Whereas some dragonflies seem aptly named, others have common names that make me wonder. For example, how does one count the spots on this Four-spotted Skimmer (Libellula quadrimaculata)? I see four black stigmas and four small black mid-wing spots, along with black and amber patches at the base of the wings.
A little research suggests that the notable spots are the ones at the middle of each wing's leading edge. I took these photos on 8 Jun 2016 in Wells, ME.
In my experience, Darner dragonflies (in the family Aeshnidae) rarely perch within easy view. (Skimmers, in the family Libellulidae, tend to be much more accommodating.) But for reasons unknown, while I was taking a midday walk last week, this Darner was in the middle of a roadway, struggling to take flight. I quickly moved the four-winged creature off the road, placing him on a nearby patch of grass, and spent a few moments with him. He appeared to be in shock, but I don't think temperature was the issue, as it was nearly 80° F, so I'm guessing he was injured in some way. Back at home, I was able to identify him as a Black-tipped Darner (Aeshna tuberculifera). (To view the following images in full-size, click here.)
Of the few New England dragonflies who are active past November 1st, the most common is the Autumn Meadowhawk (Sympetrum vicinum). Formerly called the Yellow-legged Meadowhawk, this tiny predator often does have yellowish legs, though the legs of older males are brown. Females have yellow legs and yellow to dull red abdomens. I photographed these males near a small pond in Wells, ME on October 30, 2014. (To see the following photos in full-size, click here.)
Calico Pennants (Celithemis elisa) are colorful dragonflies who forage over fields and near wetlands. Often times, they will perch on the tips of grass stalks (or other leafy plants), where they sometimes allow a close approach. Males are red and black; females and immature males are black and yellow. Continue reading Dragonflies: Calico Pennant