Saturday, May 21, 2011

Aurora Damsel (Chromagrion conditum)

Early season odonates are becoming a more frequent sight with each passing day. Teneral Four-spotted Skimmers and Whitefaces (probably Frosted Whitefaces) are abundant at the wetlands bordering the Eastern Ontario Trail.

Today I got a surprise: this teneral damselfly was looking for a safe place to rest and decided to perch on my hand. The camera was on "Auto" and I couldn't change the settings with only one hand so the image is a bit out of focus.

Although the colors and markings are still pale this is clearly a female Aurora Damsel (Chromagrion conditum) – the yellow area on the side of the thorax is diagnostic. At roughly 35 mm this damselfly is longer than the more commonly seen Enallagma bluets.

The wavy dark patch on the dorsal surface of the thorax is also characteristic of this species, as is the absence of shoulder stripes and postocular spots.

This male was encountered about a month later at a marsh on the Marlbank Road, just east of VanderWey Ct. Although members of the pond damselfly family, Aurora Damsels have a habit of holding their wings open at an angle in the manner of spreadwings when resting.