Common Baskettail Dragonfly

2018 August 18

Continuing our trip across Ontario, we had just pulled in to Carol’s Campsite (just outside of Sudbury[1]) on June 21, 2018 when this dragonfly landed on my shirt. He was in pretty rough shape, as something had taken off most of his forewing. He could still fly, but it was obviously a lot of effort for him and he spent a lot of time resting on my shirt and fingertips before he felt up to flying off.



The two flaps at the end of his abdomen are what we expect to see in a male. I think that he’s a Common Baskettail, Epitheca cynosura. Both from the general body shape/color pattern, and the fact that this species is one of the earliest-emerging dragonflies in the spring. Given his condition, he had probably been flying around for some time in order to accumulate so much damage.

Here’s a couple of pictures of his head and eyes, because what’s a dragonfly posting without a face shot?



Based on the fact that he was still managing on essentially three wings, dragonflies obviously have quite a bit of extra lift capacity. Which would be why they are normally capable of capturing other insects nearly as big as themselves and flying off to devour them at their leisure. Like the one that Sandy and I saw many years ago when we were being plagued by a horse fly. The dragonfly swooped up, snatched it out of the air, briefly landed on the ground to bite its head off, and then flew off with the body, leaving the horsefly head staring accusingly at the sky. It was very gratifying.

[1] The city of Sudbury primarily exists because of an asteroid impact at that point about 1.85 billion years ago. The asteroid (or maybe comet) was somewhere in the 6-10 mile diameter range, and basically punched a hole in the Earth’s crust down to the mantle. This allowed magma to bubble up from a considerable depth that was enriched in things like nickel, copper, platinum, palladium, and gold. So now it is a major mining district, particularly for nickel. Which is why the “Big Nickel” monument is there at Dynamic Earth. Which we, of course, had to stand under.



2 Responses
  1. August 21, 2018

    Hmm. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? First, we attract some meteors to hit the Earth on the other side and then we rush over to the smoldering ruins and claim the mining rights, the residents all being killed by the impact. It can’t miss!

  2. August 22, 2018

    Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work. The Vredefort and Chicxulub craters were both bigger impacts than Sudbury, and Popigai and Manicouagan are both only a bit smaller, but while Vredefort looks suspiciously closely related to the Witwatersrand goldfields, I don’t think there is a mining district associated with Chicxulub, Popigai, or Manicouagan.

    Overall, I think I’d rather just mine the asteroids directly, without crashing them into the earth. Better odds of working, and much less chance of getting killed by 007 while trying to get the ball rolling.

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