Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Late Season Common Whitetail

Encountered west of Tweed near a marsh bordering the trans-Canada Trail (44.46889°, -77.31528°) – a surprising find as the final few surviving Common Whitetails (Plathemis lydia) were flying nearly a month ago, and no others have been sighted until now. The last sighting in this area was a male on August 18, 2014 near the intersection of River St. and the trans-Canada Trail (44.473668°, -77.312911°).

The dulled colors aside, this female is in really good condition with no wear and tear on the wings, it was extremely wary and alert and it sure could fly. Half an hour of patient stalking were required to capture the agile odonate.

As of today – September 17th, 2104 – the dragonfly is still alive and well. Sad to say, her days are numbered. Even if she manages to evade the Darners patrolling the marsh (six species currently known – and lots of them!) the first frost of autumn lies in the not too distant future ...

Adult dragonflies can live for a few weeks if they don't fall victim to predators or the elements. Looking at the lackluster colors of the eyes and thorax and the frayed wings of this male Common Green Darner (Anax junius), one can only wonder how old it might be.

An superannuated female Lance-tipped Darner (Aeshna constricta). Again, the coloration and patterning – originally a beautiful yellow-green – is obscured, the cerci are broken, and the wings have obviously seen their fair share of use and abuse.

The colors of this male Canada Darner's (Aeshna canadensis) are fairly bright and only the whitish discoloration and ragged edges of the wings suggest its age.

The dragonfly's face, however, was something of a shock – the brown clypeus is hardly typical of this species. Discoloration of the exoskeleton due to old age? Or an aberrantly colored individual?