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July 22, 2012 / Rae Spencer

Blue Dragonfly Notes

The blue on these mature dragonflies (I believe the top image is a Blue Dasher and the next is a Great Blue Skimmer) is called “pruinescence”. Often described as a powdery accumulation of pigment, the phenomenon of pruinescence is not confined to dragonflies. (I couldn’t find a definitive resource for a link, but this Wikipedia article contains some interesting observations.)

I tend to gravitate toward pruinose dragonflies, when I’m out with my camera. I like how the pale coloration exposes seams and joints, highlighting the intricate anatomy of these amazing insects.

(This male Great Blue Skimmer was a very patient subject. Most of my dragonfly photos are taken using the zoom feature, but he let me experiment with the macro setting, which produced the next image.)

While coloration and wing patterns catch my attention first, wounds hold my attention. This female Great Blue Skimmer has a rather typical set of wing tears, but the wounds on her face are unusual. I wondered if the loss of symmetry made her less attractive, in dragonfly terms.

One final note (completely off-topic):  I’m happy to report that the summer’s first cicadas arrived this week.


  1. bellesogni / Jul 22 2012 9:21 PM

    I remember as a kid at my grandmother’s house, we’d watch the “sewing needles” flashing around her pond. They were so pretty – and fast! We never could catch one, but now I’m glad we didn’t.

    • Rae Spencer / Jul 22 2012 10:26 PM

      I remember trying to catch them, too! They were so tempting, with all of their glitter and sparkle…

  2. Sharon Poch / Jul 22 2012 9:28 PM

    I never tire of these exquisite creatures with their bejeweled bodies and intricate wing patterns. Thanks for the info on “pruinescence”–fascinating.

  3. Angela / Jul 23 2012 10:33 AM

    Absolutely gorgeous pictures, Rae. Your place certainly is abloom with wild things. 🙂

  4. lynnwyvill / Jul 23 2012 5:03 PM

    These are awesome photos! Thanks for the information about these beautiful creatures. I really enjoy your blog.

    • Rae Spencer / Jul 23 2012 10:44 PM

      Thank you! I worry, sometimes, that readers will get tired of seeing dragonfly photos long before I get tired of posting them…

      • lynnwyvill / Jul 24 2012 6:39 AM

        I can’t speak for other readers, but I love these amazing dragonfly photos, and never tire of looking at them. You are giving me an up close look that I’ve never had before. I marvel at your skill at capturing amazing detail.

  5. bardessdmdenton / Jul 25 2012 1:08 PM

    I adore this photographs of dragonflies! So glad you shared.

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