Sunday, October 10, 2010

Last Dragonfly to Emerge of the Season

Today I was going to pull and cut weeds around the pond. I started yesterday with the front bed which was completely out of control with stilt grass and blackberries. The blackberries did not as well as they did last year because of our drought, the stilt grass didn't seem to care.

I made a new path along the sunny side of the pond and got distracted by the dragonflies flying in tandem over the pond. I knew instantly they were Autumn Meadowhawks (formerly called Yellow-legged Meadowhawks). So instead of weeding I ended up watching behavior and photographing the meadowhawks. The Autumn Meadowhawk is the last dragonfly to emerge in late summer or early fall here. I have seen them flying as late as December 10 here!
This pair of Autumn Meadowhawk, Sympetrum vicinum landed on this canna leaf for my first photo of this species in tandem. I think these are the only meadowhawks that fly in tandem and lay eggs as they fly together over the water. Tandem is not mated, the male who is grasping the females head will wait for the female to swing her abdomen around to mate with him in the wheel position.
Here the female looks like she has her appendages open yet no eggs are visible. Never seen this before either. I watched for at least an hour and I saw a mated pair the entire time(when in sight) I was watching, no single females were seen.
Male Autumn Meadowhawk above and below.  These photos look to be the best I have taken of this small 1 1/4 inch dragonfly! I saw 6 of these tiny beauties over and around our pond today!

male Southern Spreadwing, Lestes australis
Three of these were in the Johnson Grass on our pond today. At first I thought it was a new species for our pond the Swamp Spreadwing but the legs are not black. Then Sweetflag Spreadwing was another choice and I went back to the pond to photograph a female, the females can be disguised by the rear appendage which I managed to get a photo of to confirm Southern Spreadwing.


Shady Gardener said...

Those are beautiful, Randy. Can't believe there's going to be a "last" of anything down there... but then, I do remember your skating on your icy pond last winter! :-)

Carol said...

I do not know how you do it Randy! Fantastic photos! Beautiful creatures. Observing and capturing these Autumn Meadowhawks was a good idea over weeding. Weeding can wait. My shots were taken earlier in mid September I think. I am only seeing Sulphurs now. ;>)

sweetbay said...

I will have to be on the lookout for Dragonflies like this, as I don't know if I've seen ones like that before. The Spreadwing has gorgeous blue eyes.

Diana (Di) said...

Randy, you always have the most beautiful photos and species. I thought all of ours would be gone by now, but one accompanied me several days ago in the vegetable garden. If you have a chance maybe you could take a look at the guy.

Andrea said...

I know how these dragonflies fly and how sensitive they are to someone approaching. You are very patient and your photos are awesome. I am learning a lot from these posts.

Ali Iyoob said...

NICE FINDS!!!! The Autumn Meadowhawks still haven't emerged here.