Currently viewing the category: "Dragonflies and Damselflies"
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Dragonfly resubmission
August 14, 2009
Here in Sacramento, Ca., for years in the summer I’ve seen dragonflies perch on the tip of the radio antennae of my car, presumably looking for prey.
For the past ten years I’ve seen black and gray ones, but this year it seems to be all reddish orange ones like the pictures I sent. I don’t know if this is merely a coincidence, but all the years I saw the black and gray ones, I had a black car. This year I bought a fire engine red car and suddenly all the dragonflies are red ones. Are they attracted to a background they can fade into? It appears that these red dragonflies are either neon skimmers or flame skimmers. I can’t tell the difference really. Sacramento fits within both of their ranges. These pictures might be of two separate insects. The “dragonflytop” picture was taken a week before the other two.
Jammin Bill
Sacramento, Ca.

Flame Skimmer

Flame Skimmer

Dear Jammin Bill,
First we have to apologize for not responding to your original email, but as we stated in a personal email, we haven’t the time or the staff to even read all of the mail we receive, often over 100 emails a day during the summer.  We choose randomly, often based on a subject line.  Often, like you, people will write back to us and tell us that the sent photos a week or more earlier, and going back through old mail is nearly an impossibility.  All resubmissions to our site should contain attached photos once again.  We realize that this is an inconvenience, but it is the only way we are able to smoothly make postings.  If we have to hunt through multiple emails to get all necessary information, we just abandon the effort and move on to an easier identification request.
In our opinion, you have submitted three images of a male Flame Skimmer, Libellula saturata, based on the distribution of the amber coloring on the wings.  BugGuide has a fine explanation on telling the difference between Flame Skimmers and the Neon Skimmer, , complete with comparison photographs.  BugGuide states:  “See species description on the U. of Texas website odonatacentral.  L. saturata – Flame skimmer: males bright orange with amber color in the wings covering half the width of the wing, out to the nodus, and all the way to the rear of the hind wing. Females paler but still with some amber at least on the leading edge of the wing. …  L. croceipennis – Neon Skimmer: males bright red with amber wing color only covering a quarter of the wing, halfway to the nodus, and not all the way back to the rear edge of the hind wing. Female paler and with essentially clear wings.
We don’t know what to say about your observation regarding the color of the dragonflies that perch on your antenna, and the color of the cars.  Dragonflies can be very territorial, and it is quite probable that the same individual returns to the same perch on a daily basis.  That would support the theory that all your photos are of the same individual since the period of time that elapsed between the documentation is within the lifespan of an individual dragonfly.  Perhaps in previous years, more drably colored females of the species perched on your black car.  Without a photo though, it would be difficult to hazard a guess as to the species.  Finally, we believe Dragonflies see in color, and your question about the color of the surroundings might have some validity.

Flame Skimmer

Flame Skimmer

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Dragonfly ID
August 1, 2009
This was taken in NJ 8/2/09. Can you you ID?
Thanks Brian
Williamstown NJ

Widow Skimmer

Widow Skimmer

Hi Brian,
This is a male Widow Skimmer, Libellula luctuosa.  According to BugGuide:  “Mature males have a large basal area of brown on each of the four wings, and each wing also has a whitish area roughly at the middle. Their brown bodies become increasingly pruinose (whitish) as they get older.  Females and immature males have the same brown wing bands as the mature males, but not the whitish areas. Wings usually have a brown tip. A dorsal view of the abdomen shows a brown band at center with a yellow stripe running along each side.
Since the body on your individual is pale lavender, we can deduce that it is a more mature male.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Dragonfly – Whitetail?
August 1, 2009
These big guys follow my mom around while she gardens all the time in the summer, I think mostly because she uproots the rocks around the garden’s edge and exposes a ton of little insects that all flee. This time she asked me to follow her around as well to get a good shot of one. I managed to catch this girl (I think) as she perched on top of one of the hanging flower pots that was taken down to be watered, though she was really flighty for almost 20 minutes before she surrendered. The picture turned out well enough to come try and find a match, and after some browsing on your site, I think this one is a common whitetail female. They are so pretty and they usually have no shame when it comes to saying hi to us.
Jere
South-east MI

Common Whitetail:  Teneral Male

Common Whitetail: Teneral Male

Hi Jere,
You are correct about this being a Common Whitetail, Plathemis lydia, but it is not a female.  It is a teneral male.  According to the University of Florida Dragonflies and Damselflies web page: “When naiads are ready for their final molt they leave the water and crawl onto the bank or vegetation where they will molt into adults. Much like a caterpillar emerging from a chrysalis, they will need to pump up their wings and allow their bodies to harden before they can be effective fliers. A newly emerged odonate is teneral (soft). A teneral dragonfly has glossy wings and the colors on the body are often pale. Several days after emmerging hardened completely and will have taken on the colors of an adult dragonfly.
According to BugGuide on the Common Whitetail information page:  “Immature males have the same body pattern as females but the same wing pattern as mature males.” BugGuide has excellent photos illustrating the differences between male and female Common Whitetails.  Your letter contains some fascinating dragonfly behavior observations.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Is this critter a Phytocoris varipes?
July 29, 2009
I found this critter on the control weir of a retention pond this morning. The fresh moulted shell was about two inches away from it and looks exactly like the pictures I can find on the Internet of Phytocoris varipes but the large growth between the body and head of the moulted insect are puzzling. I expect this will dissipate as the moult process completes? This insect, whatever it is, is about one inch long.
charlibrown
Elgin, South Carolina

Dragonfly Metamorphosis

Dragonfly Metamorphosis

Hi charlibrown,
You witnessed a Dragonfly metamorphosis.  The aquatic Naiad or larva has crawled out of the water and split its exoskeleton.  The growth you mentioned is actually the head of the adult Dragonfly with its large compound eyes.  Perhaps one of our readers can identify the species.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Ebony Jewelwing
July 20, 2009
Hi there,
Love your site. My kids are budding entomologists and we spend our summers finding bugs all day. This one was so pretty I thought i’d send you the picture. Looked it up on your site to find out – i’m pretty sure – an ebony jewelwing damselfly. The photo doesn’t do the colors justice – it was so metallic and bright. Very cool bug.
The Franke family
Cincinnati, OH

Ebony Jewelwing

Ebony Jewelwing

Dear Franke family,
Thanks for submitting your photo of an Ebony Jewelwing, Calopteryx maculata, one of the Damselflies.  The hand provides a nice sense of scale.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Large Aquatic Bug (?) Found in the Ozarks, Does NOT Appear to be a Toe Biter
July 18, 2009
The picture that I have included is horrible, but it was gone so quickly we couldn’t snap a good picture, however, the outline is there. It was a large aquatic insect about 2 to 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Round body shape. Posterior is actually scalloped, blurred in picture. There small head with two short stubby protrusions. From what we could tell there were two very long arms that It could grab and swim with. (It held on to the tip of my fishing pole with these two arms. In the picture they are seen at it’s sides) It was a light brown color with some slight pattern on it’s back. It was found in about 3 foot of water in a slow moving section of a creek near Branson, Missouri. It was very round and from what I can tell from giant water bugs, they are much m ore oval or elliptical in shape. Hope this is helpful, I am very interested in knowing what this neat little guy is!
Thank you, Jamie
Ozarks Missouri, Bull Creek, arm of Table Rock Lake

Dragonhunter Naiad

Dragonhunter Naiad

Dear Jamie,
Though your photo is sorely lacking in the type of details that generally make an identification possible, the outline of the Naiad of the Dragonhunter, Hagenius brevistylus
, a type of Dragonfly, is quite distinctive.  We feel confident that you have seen a Dragonhunter Naiad and you can see a detailed photo on BugGuide.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination