Today’s gray gloom can’t be conquered by normal means.
Blankets and hot chocolate are no match for the wind’s creak and scrape.
Even the cats have given up. They’ve abandoned their interest in my newly reorganized guest room/office and curled up in their favorite beds.
I would join their willful hibernation if I could, but my to-do list is on the verge of collapsing under its own weight and becoming a singularity from which I can never escape.
So, when sleep is not an option, the only remaining cure for a day like today is dragonflies.
Lots and lots of dragonflies.
I feel better already.
A wave of dragonflies arrived this week, washed into the yard by the rising tides of summer’s heat.
Blue Dashers are by far the most numerous, claiming spots near the ground in all of the iris beds.
Great Blue Skimmers seem to prefer the slightly higher perches provided by our trellises.
Higher yet, in the wax myrtle canopy, Halloween Pennants pivot in the wind like miniature weather vanes.
(At first glance, the next dragonfly seemed to be another Halloween Pennant, but the camera’s zoom function revealed inconsistent wing patterns. After consulting a few online resources, I believe this is either a female Common Whitetail or a Twelve-Spotted Skimmer. Please comment if you can correct or confirm my identifications!) [Update added June 30: Possibly a Painted Skimmer, see comment from Gillian.]
These new dragonflies join an already-established population of Eastern Pondhawks, which began arriving in late May.
Now, no matter where I look in the yard, I find dragonflies. Summer wouldn’t feel the same without them.
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.
The heatwave continues. Every so often, an afternoon thunderstorm brings brief relief, but these storms are too scattered to offer any reliable remedy. The only creatures who seem to thrive are dragonflies.
My camera struggles in this weather. The lens fogs, whenever I step outside, and the camera’s body absorbs so much sunlight that it actually becomes uncomfortable to hold. I’m still getting my twenty minutes per day, but time in the yard is increasingly forced. Perhaps I’ll try the park, where a stretch of beach and plenty of shade might defuse the relentless heat.
More and more dragonflies! (As usual, the identifications are mostly guesswork. Please comment to confirm or correct!)
Male Great Blue Skimmer?
Female Great Blue Skimmer
Unknown. (Possibly one of the skimmers?)
Female Eastern Amberwing
Female Eastern Amberwing