Since starting this series, I wanted to photograph a dragonfly. However, every time I saw one, it quickly flew away and I started giving up hope of photographing one this past season. So to my surprise, a little over 3 months ago I finally had the opportunity to photograph not just one, but two different dragonflies.
The first one was sunbathing on a lounge chair in my garden. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out which species and gender this is, but it has proven to be very difficult. It could be either a Vagrant Darter (Sympetrum vulgatum) or a Common Darter (Sympetrum striolatum). And it is either a young male or a female. Older males have a reddish or reddish-brown color which would make it easier to determine which species it is. Females are less brightly colored like the specimen below, but should be recognisable by a anatomical structure at the tail, which is used for laying eggs. Young males are recognisable by their genitalia which are located at the abdominal region close to the wings. In the pictures I took, I couldn’t see either structure. Another trait that is used to distinguish between the two species, is a by a black line between the eyes. Unfortunately I do not have pictures of other perspectives, so it’ll probably remain a mystery which species and gender this particular sunbather is.
The next day I found a different dragonfly relaxing near the butterfly bush. This specimen was slightly easier to determine. It is a migrant Hawker (Aeshna mixta), possibly female or a young male.
Dragonflies have remarkable lifestyles. Check out the videos below to learn more!
Short BBC documentary about the dragonfly life-cycle:
How do dragonflies fly?
A dragonfly on the hunt:
Questions or comments are -as always- welcome!