Monday, June 11, 2012

Amber-winged Spreadwing (Lestes eurinus)

Unlike other spreadwings the Amber-winged Spreadwing (Lestes eurinus) flies over open water, making this wary, elusive damselfly difficult to pursue and photograph. It also colonizes temporary – preferably fish free – ponds and pools, which may explain its sudden occurrence at a marsh where it hasn't been seen in the past four years. Conditions appear to be acceptable for breeding because a tandem pair was observed, so hopefully these striking insects will be around for a while.

Pruinosity has obscured the markings on the sides of the thorax of this older male; just a hint of yellow is visible.

A female Amber-winged Spreadwing; these robust damselflies are about 50 mm in length. Note the yellow patch and diagonal dark band on the side of the thorax.

Wildlife is best photographed in its natural habitat, but sometimes a closer look is warranted. The colors on the thorax of this relatively young male are the same as the female's.

The wings bear a distinctive amber wash – again, this is a young male and the amber tint may be difficult to see in older males and females.

And now we come to the main reason for capturing this damselfly – oblique and dorsal views of the claspers. The lower claspers are very short in this species.

The spreadwings hung around the marsh for about three days, then dropped out of sight and haven't been observed at that locale again. But about ten days later two female Amber-winged Spreadwings were encountered near a small sand bottomed creek in a shady forested area (a rather atypical habitat according to my field guides) about a kilometer east of the marsh.

This is an older female ... the amber wash on the wings is barely evident, the eyes are blue, and there's some pruinosity on the tip of the abdomen. But the damselfly's robust build and length – a good 50 mm – and the markings on the sides of the thorax leave no doubt as to species.

July 11th, 2012 ... this female damselfly was hanging out in the shade near the intersection of the trail and Lajoie Road.

The lighting was less than optimal and the photos aren't the best, but the characteristic band on the side of the thorax is clear enough ... this is an Amber-winged Spreadwing.