Monday, January 30, 2012

The Rest of the Story

A picture is worth a thousand words, as the saying goes, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t many more words lurking behind the photo which tell a much more interesting story.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Mite-y Dragons: Odonata and Water Mites

If you look at odonates often enough, closely enough, you’re bound to notice some that are accessorized with tiny orbs—often orangish or reddish in color, clinging to various parts of the body like jewelry. But it isn’t “bling” or the latest fad in body art. When I first started catching odonates and looking at them in-hand, I thought they might be eggs which got stuck to the body, but that isn’t right either. What are these sanguine spheroids, these rusty rondures, these blushing bulbous globules?

Male Tule Bluet (Enallagma carunculatum) with a string of mites under the abdomen.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Protoneura: Sparks in the Dark

Considering that it’s January and that I can’t reasonably expect to see an adult odonate for a couple of months in the damp, chilly Pacific Northwest, I thought I’d take you back to Ecuador to profile one my my favorite genera of damselflies.

The Protoneura (21 known species) are small, but relatively long, skinny damselflies in the family Protoneuridae—the “threadtails” as they are known commonly. This is a mostly tropical family found circumequatorially, but three species make it as far north as southern Texas. Male Protoneura are often brightly colored, at least on the thorax, but they also stick to shady areas along forested streams where they can be difficult to spot. It’s not unusual to notice a bit of bright color suspended over a small stream, then realize that it’s part of a Protoneura hovering motionlessly.