Wednesday, July 02, 2008

More Dragonflies

I last posted a picture of a dragonfly back in August last year. Since then, I've seen and photographed more but yesterday, I got a great picture and just needed to share it. I also got another dragonfly later on my walk. Since I'm back in dragonfly mode, I'll include some dragonfly pictures I've taken over the last year but just didn't post. First, the magnificent, dark, blue dragonfly that caught my attention yesterday.

I remember seeing these around swamps in central Pennsylvania (near where I went to college) when we'd go out on "expeditions into the wild". My group of friends and I had had a really terrific professor for our invertebrate zoology class and we'd all had to do the mandatory insect collection. We had to collect and identify 50 families of insects (remember, spiders, ticks, centipedes etc aren't insects) . So, you couldn't just catch fifty flies that were all in the same family (also remember that you normally start with species and work up through genus and then to family, see this article on biological classification, so family includes a lot of different species that may look quite different). It was a struggle but our professor just got so excited about the subject that he got us all excited.

The second picture is another one I got yesterday. This dragonfly wouldn't stay still for long but it kept coming back to the same place after each its excursions so I was finally able to get a picture. I remember one of the books we used to classify our insects as saying that often dragonflies, which are very good fliers and quite fast, are often caught because they are so curious. That when the net first comes down and misses them, they will turn around and come back to see what was happening - giving the collector another chance at his prey. For insects, the dragonfly is quite intelligent though you could say, "If they're so smart, why would they come back and get caught?"

These next two pictures are from last summer. The first was a lucky shot with the wings of the dragonfly angled so you can see through them from the front. This picture doesn't show it but it was turning its head from side to side. I'm not sure if it was studying me and evaluating the threat I posed or if it was looking for prey. Whatever the reason, it added to the feeling of intelligence about these insects. The only other insect that comes close is the praying mantis but I don't have any pictures of those.

My final picture isn't all that good but I've seen and photographed many of these but, for some reason, the view of the abdomen always seems distorted. It's almost as if it glows because it always seems to be overexposed. This is the best I've been able to do with this type of dragonfly.

I'm not going to lock myself in by stating a specific date when I'm going to do this, like I did before, but some day soon, I hope to write up a funny (I think so anyway) article about the time I was doing my insect collection in college and was having trouble getting enough variety.

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