Friday, August 20, 2010

Dragonfly

The Dragonfly as it looks in Nature

The Dragonfly as an archetype...radical man radical.

What is it about the Dragonfly that makes us cringe? Is it some sort of genetic preconditioning from the time when Dragonflies were as large as Eagles? Hard to say, but they certainly have a bad reputation in many cultures. Metaphorically, they are known to steal babies from their cribs or measure the weight of your soul.

Blue-eyed Darner (Aeschna multicolor) in flight

Reality is far more interesting. Dragonflies are territorial carnivores. They consume mosquitoes, flies, and other insects we humans detest. So why the bad wrap? I think it is just because they look so bad ass. Like a UFO, they can fly in six directions and will zoom away faster than you can say auto focus. Their wings are hydraulic and can move independently while their compound eyes can detect a bug, or see into your soul, at fifty paces.

Female Springtime Darner (Basiaeschna janata)

What you call a Dragonfly is actually the second and shortest stage of the organisms lifecycle. They spend much of their existence as a nymph cruising the local pond in search of prey. This stage can last up to 5 years in some species. At some point, the nymph will transform into the adult insect. The adult stage may last for only a few months and is primarily a means of reproduction. Maybe we should add "flying sexpot" to the list of the Dragonfly's reputations.

Left wing detail

I caught the images of the flying Blue-eyed Darner (Aeschna multicolor) at Officer Gulch near Frisco. There were several specimens cruising the pond in a near continuous pattern. This species is common through out Colorado. The male is bright blue and the female a more muted brown.

Right wing detail

The images of the Springtime Darner (Basiaeschna janata) I got in my back yard. I suspect this poor gal is dying. She hung out on the same perch for half a day. The wing details are amazing. Here are two sites to help you identify your Dragonflies:
  • http://www.dragonflies.org/catalog.htm
  • http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/distr/insects/dfly/co/toc.htm
Side view of the wind

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