Friday, June 4, 2010

Lilypad Clubtail (Arigomphus furcifer)

The weather is warming up and different species of odonates are emerging from the water every day. At the lakeshore I'm seeing Widow Skimmers, Twelve-spotted Skimmers, teneral Blue Dashers, tenerals of all kinds of species, in fact. Among the new fliers are the handsome dragonflies in the following photos, male Lilypad Clubtails (Arigomphus furcifer).

The beautiful turquoise eyes and rusty orange terminal abdominal segments are helpful field marks.

The contour of the male's pale claspers distinguishes this dragonfly from similar species.

Although the light was good, there wasn't much wind and the dragonflies were fearless if approached slowly it took a lot of patience to acquire just a few pictures. The subjects couldn't perch for long because there were four males present, all staking out territories and constantly harassing one another other.

As is often the case with many dragonflies, when I approached too closely for comfort the insect would elevate its abdomen to the "obelisk" position, spread its claspers, open its jaws and turn to face me. At 50 mm in length, when these large dragonflies assume this posture they can certainly appear threatening but of course they are totally harmless ... to people, at any rate.

This female gomphid was photographed in the same habitat as the males above ... mud bottom lake, relatively shallow stagnant water, with emergent plants such as rushes, water lilies, blue flag, wapato and pickerelweed. Based on the detail visible in these pictures (not the best), and association in the same habitat with the males above, this is probably a female Lilypad Clubtail (Arigomphus furcifer).