Currently viewing the category: "Dragonflies and Damselflies"
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unknown flying insect
Location: Fenton, Michigan
August 30, 2011 12:20 pm
We found this in our yard in Fenton, Michigan and have no idea what it is. It looks like a dragonfly with a stinger. Can you help us identify it.
Signature: Rich Galley


Hi Rich,
Because of the patterns on their wings, Dragonflies in the genus
Tramea are known as Saddlebags.  You can read more about Saddlebags on BugGuide.  For the record, Dragonflies do not have stingers, but their appearance has lead to folklore and superstitions in countless locations worldwide that involve stitchery and bewitching. 

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Red Veined Darter
Location: Baldwin county Alabama
August 12, 2011 11:35 pm
I didn’t see a picture of a Red Veined Darter when looking through your dragonflies ( I didn’t go through them all, I admit) So I thought I would send this amazing picture my wife took with her iphone when it landed on mine.
Signature: South Alabama bug dude

Alleged Red Veined Darter is Needham's Skimmer

Dear South Alabama bug dude,
We hope your wife knows that you submitted her amazing photo to our website.  We recently grappled with a copyright situation because a photo from the Pennsylvania Wild website was submitted to us for identification purposes without the knowledge of the photo’s originator.  Once a digital photo enters the blogosphere, anything can happen.  Things go viral and there is internet piracy.  Imagery can be transformed and used for advertising purposes.  We cannot help but to wonder if in the very near future we will be teaching photography with a cellular telephone because the cameras are getting better and better and Apple is putting so many features onto the telephone that have nothing to do with making telephone calls.  We have concerns because your wife is obviously a creative individual and she has used a panoramic format and vignetting to add originality to her image.  We cannot say for certain that this is a Red Veined Darter.  We find Dragonfly identifications most challenging.  We are also going to include a cropped and flipped version of the Dragonfly with adjusted levels so that the identifying features of this Dragonfly are less obfuscated.  We cannot link to the Red Veined Darter on BugGuide because it is not represented there, and in our opinion, BugGuide is the best place to identify insects and spiders found in the United States and Canada.  A web search for Red Veined Darter produced a hit to a Dragonfly Site and a scientific name 
Sympetrum fonscolombii.  A web search of Sympetrum fonscolombii produced a hit to a UK site that lists it as a vagrant, but notes:  “”In Britain this species has been seen annually since 1995. Most have been migrants but breeding has been noted in a number of sites from Cornwall to Yorkshire.”  We believe you have not correctly identified your Dragonfly.  The not so credible Wikipedia has many photos of the Red Veined Darter, and none look like your Dragonfly.
We have now taken up a considerable portion of our allotted time this morning for responding to the web browsing public’s questions on what has become a non-identification.   We promised Elizabeth that we would write her a letter of recommendation  for the U.S. Student Fulbright Program so that she can do a photography project in Russia.  Also the fifteen year old Chinese elm bonsaii grove we have nurtured from seedlings has some species of Scale Insect that are being tended by the dreaded Argentine Ants and we really need to take a toothbrush to it and repot it.  We also need to work on a presentation to the Greater Cypress Park Neighborhood Council to request funding to help control the Tree of Heaven population in Elyria Canyon Park.  Sometimes our editorial staff has obligations (or recreational desires) that have nothing to do with the web browsing public’s insect identification questions and today, those things need to be a priority.

Alleged Red Veined Darter is Needham's Skimmer


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Eight Spotted Skimmer in the Hood
Location: Portland, Oregon
August 9, 2011 3:04 pm
Fantastic site, thank you for your labor of love!
My good friend and top sleuther, Davey identified this as an eight-spotted skimmer. I took this photo 8/7/11 on my patio in Portland, OR. I live right in the city, within two miles of the Mt. Tabor reservoir, so woods and water are nearby. This guy (or lady?) didn’t flinch at all even with my camera up in its face. It merely turned its head and smiled.
Signature: Vicki B.

Eight Spotted Skimmer

Hi Vicki,
Thank you for sending in your photo of an Eight Spotted Skimmer,
Libellula forensis, a species that is so distinctive it is unlikely to be confused with other Dragonflies, which we often have difficulty identifying.

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Zebra Dragonfly/Moth?
Location: Southwestern Pennsylvania (near Monongahela river)
August 8, 2011 4:30 pm
Found this nifty looking bug outside of my house – he was already comatose when I came upon him, so i put a quarter by him for size comparison and took some pictures… Thanks!
Signature: KatieC

Male Common Whitetail

Hi Katie,
Your Dragonfly is a male Common Whitetail.  Like many Dragonflies, this is a sexually dimorphic species because only the males have the white abdomen, and the wing patterns of the sexes are also different.

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Cicada Killer Carnage!
Location: Milton, DE
August 7, 2011 9:34 pm
Hello again Bugman!!
On our recent vacation to Delaware, we also were lucky enough to catch this awesome bug on bug carnage, which we think is a Cicada Killer making a meal of a dragon fly. We also took some video of it since my boyfriend thinks these bugs are absolutely awesome. Poor dragonfly had his head ripped clean off!
We were wondering why it went after a dragonfly, however. Perhaps the coloring being close to that of the cicada made it confused? Or do they regularly snack on other bugs?
Thanks again!!
Signature: Bruce and Ren

European Hornet Kills Dragonfly

Dear Bruce and Ren,
You have mistaken a European Hornet,
Vespa crabro, for a Cicada Killer, which explains why the prey in your Food Chain images is not a Cicada.  According to BugGuide, they are:  “Predatory on other insects, used to feed young. Also girdle twigs to drink sap.”  We cannot explain why the Dragonfly was killed and decapitated, and then abandoned.  Insects are not prone to killing for the sake of killing.  They either defend themselves or kill to eat or to provide food for their offspring.  We wonder why the European Hornet killed and decapitated the Dragonfly and then abandoned it.  Possibly it was disturbed by the camera.  Perhaps one of our readers will have the time to identify the species of dragonfly.

Decapitated Dragonfly

After browsing your site for a bit we started to suspect our bug may have been a hornet when we saw the coloring wasn’t quite right for a cicada killer. We’re glad to have our suspicions confirmed. We were surprised, though, as the hornet was flying around us while we were throwing a frisbee, and did not seem in the slightest aggressive, even when we got close to take pictures (and we were close enough to hear the crunching! Yuck!). Still an awesome sight we were glad to stumble upon. I forgot to mention, that particular bug was seen at the Prime Hook Wildlife Reserve in Milton, DE. Great place to visit. Thanks again for your help!
Bruce and Ren


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Pantala flavescens?
Location: Hawthorne, CA
July 28, 2011 2:55 pm
I think I have this beauty correctly identified. Will you please confirm?
Signature: Thanks, Anna Carreon

Globe Skinner, Anna believes

Hi Anna
Just today we were asked by a journalist named Marian with High Country News which insect order gives us the most difficult time with identifications.  Without even flinching we blurted out Dragonflies.  They are sexually dimorphic, meaning the generally drabber females often look nothing like the males.  Additionally, the males go through color transformations between the time they first emerge and the time they are fully sexually mature.  We are not going to research your request tonight, but we are posting your letter and photo.  We will give this our best shot tomorrow.  The lighting and detail on the profile shot are stunning.

Globe Skimmer, according to Anna

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination