I had not yet seen any adult odonates at home in the Pacific Northwest, so my first of the year were at Avery Island, Louisiana—a salt dome protruding out of the marshlands and bayous where the world supply of Tabasco hot sauce is produced. Also located here is the Jungle Gardens, a botanical garden and bird sanctuary established by the McIlhenny family with plenty of alligator-occupied ponds and odonates. The odonate diversity was not great, but some are species that do not occur in the Northwest. Below are several species photographed at the Jungle Gardens a couple days ago.
|Male Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis), a very abundant species here. Very similar to our Western Pondhawk (E. collocata) which some may argue is the same species. The very pale cerci at the tip of the abdomen are characteristic of Eastern males—at least over most of its range, and is not typical of Westerns. Here's the Eastern Pondhawk range map at OdonataCentral.org.|
|Female Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis)—what appears to be the second most abundant species around. This should look familiar to many people in the Pacific Northwest.|
|Male Rambur's Forktail (Ischnura ramburii). This primarily southern species does not make it into the Pacific Northwest, but it is found as far west as southern California (also introduced on the Hawaiian Islands). Map.|
|Another Rambur's Forktail, but this is an immature female with an impressive clump of water mites on the side of the thorax. See that little orangish-brown spot on the wings near the thorax and right above the abdomen? That appears to be a ceratopogonid midge—another ectoparasite of adult odonates. These latch on to the wing veins and feed on the fluids within. It must be quite a ride while the odonate is flying! Ceratopogonids, at least the ones that parasitize odonates, are primarily tropical—I've never noticed one in the Pacific Northwest.|
|Male Fragile Forktail (Ischnura posita). These are tiny, inconspicuous little things lacking the blue spot near the tip of the abdomen which is characteristic of most Ischnura. This species is widespread in eastern North America, and is not found west of the Rocky Mountains (except in Hawaii where it is not native, of course). Map.|