Thursday, May 24, 2012

South Carolina Highlights, Part 2

This is the second installment of a short series of posts about my recent travels in South Carolina while attending the annual meeting of the Dragonfly Society of the Americas in May 2012. Check out Part 1 if you haven’t seen it yet.

The second phase of my time in South Carolina was the 2012 annual meeting of the Dragonfly Society of the Americas (the first phase was the pre-meeting trip). We stayed in Florence for the variety of lodging and food options while the field time and business meeting were to the north in the sand hills area around Cheraw. In this post I’ll share some odonatalogical highlights from the field on 4 May 2012 which, in the case of myself and my travel companions, was spent entirely at Campbell Lake—a beautiful body of water ringed with lilypads and studded with towering cypresses (see photo above).
This little cutie is a female Ornate Pennant (Celithemis ornata). She's pretty fresh, so the yellow markings are bright and crisp against the black.
You can't tell from the photo, but this is an even littler cutie—a female Elfin Skimmer (Nannothemis bella). This is the smallest dragonfly in Canada and the United States averaging a little under 20 mm in length. The body patterning and bit of amber color in the wings may be wasp and bee mimicry. I think the white patches on the sides of the eyes are really cool.
A male Variable Dancer (Argia fumipennis fumipennis). This is a common species in eastern North America, but I don't get enough of these little purple guys with smoky dark wings. They are called "variable" because males of the subspecies across the northern and western parts of the species' range (A. f. violacea) have clear wings while males in peninsular Florida (A. f. atra) are like the male above, but the abdomen is nearly all black except for those last segments; the fumipennis subspecies is in-between geographically and color-wise. Note the little red water mite attached to the thorax behind the front leg.
A male Clearlake Clubtail (Gomphus australis) lounging on a lilypad. The end of the abdomen looks "stretched" because the ninth abdominal segment (the second one from the end) is quite long—a good 50% longer than the segment in front of it. I only saw a couple of these, and this was the only one that posed for photographs.
This beauty is a male Cherry Bluet (Enallagma consicum)—one of the oxymoronic "non-blue bluets" of eastern North America. If you look closely, you might be able to pick out two red water mites attached to the thorax above the fore and middle legs. I think the purplish metallic sheen reflecting off of the black shoulder stripe on the thorax is a nice touch.
I'll wrap up with three shots of this striking dragonfly, Painted Skimmer (Libellula semifasciata). I spent quite a bit of time chasing these things around some puddles in a clearcut a short distance from the lake. At first they didn't seem too interested in being approached, but I guess I wore them down and I ended up with some satisfactory photos. I was honored to have the last photo below appear on the cover of Argia, newsletter of the Dragonfly Society of the Americas, this summer.

Continue to Part 3.


  1. Very nice photos. How long of a lens are you using?

    1. Thanks! Most of my odonate photography is done with a 180 mm macro plus a 1.4x teleconverter.