Mosaic Darner #2: Canada Darner (Slanting Blue Stripes)

2012 March 7

So. While I was preparing Saturday’s photos of a green-striped dragonfly, I stumbled across these pictures, which I had taken a bit over a year earlier (July 18, 2010), and which I had completely forgotten about [1]

It was very similar to the one I posted Saturday, with the same body shape, the same pale line at the back of the eyes, and the same dark spot at the leading edge of each wing, so it is clearly a very close relative. I can’t remember the circumstances that we found it in, but it was obviously letting us handle it and take pictures of it out in the open. Here it is standing on Sandy’s hand, for example, so you can see just how big it was.

The big, obvious difference is that instead of green stripes slanting across the thorax, it had blue stripes.

I think it is a Canada Darner, Aeshna canadensis, the subdued blue coloration is right and the actual patterning looks to me to be spot-on. And they are another mid- to late-summer northern species.

I also got pictures of it doing this. I think that it is a female, and this is its ovipositing pose. Normally, it would be doing this to a reed, or wet, rotting logs in bodies of water, to lay eggs.

Here’s the abdomen tip, which looks like it is in fact a female.

I can see where a dragonfly resting on somebody’s arm, and going into the ovipositing pose, could be pretty alarming to somebody who doesn’t know what it is. It sure looks like it is trying to sting, or at least to stab like a sewing needle. Which, I suppose, is where the common name “darners” probably came from – it looks like she’s trying to sew something up with her needle abdomen. When I was a kid, some of the other kids would try to terrify each other by claiming that darners would fly up and sew your lips together.

This last picture shows the dragonfly on Sam’s hand, illustrating the independent wing motion. I think this is what makes it possible for their helicopter-like flight; by having one set descending while the other is ascending, they can pretty much eliminate any bobbing motion, and can hover in the air as if they were nailed there.

It’s pretty clear that the whole family was involved in getting these shots, seeing as how they include Sandy’s hand and Sam’s hand, and I was certainly taking the pictures. I just wish I remembered doing it.

[1] This is why, as of spring 2011, I started keeping a notebook recording everything that I photograph on a given day, with pertinent details like where we found it and how big it was. I really should have been doing that all along.

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