Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Anax junius Rescue Service

I took a little 20 minute break from the computer today to get outside for some fresh air. There is a lot of odonate activity these days, lots of pairing off and territorial zooming around. Lots of Calico Pennants (Celithemis elisa), a few Common Whitetails (Libellula lydia), plus a bunch of various and sundry bluet damsels and at least one Eastern Forktail (Ischnura verticalis).

There were also a couple of Common Green Darners (Anax junius) paired off and laying eggs, and the ones that were not paired off were apprently pissed off about it. Dragonflies have short lives, so speed dating is of the essence. They were being viciously territorial, and as I was just getting ready to go back inside, I saw something on the water surface fluttering madly. It was a Common Green Darner, looking like he had just been clocked but good in a bar fight. I fished him out of the pond scum and duckweed in which he had fallen and let him perch on my finger.

As you can see from the picture, he is not in too good of shape. Chunks of wing are missing, he's missing a segment of his left front foot, and generally was having trouble getting his strength back. After a few minutes he started cleaning himself off, especially his eyes. One of the coolest things about Darners in general is that they have huge eyes that meet at the top of their heads, which is one way you can tell Darners from the other odonates. His eyes were soon cleaned off and he proceeded to do the best he can to tidy up, given he was missing a leg and all.

After a ten minutes or so, he feebly took off across the pond. If he were a car, he would have been a rusted out 1986 Chevy Cavalier with a muffler dragging across the ground. He looked pathetic compared to the Ferrari and Lamborghini dragonflies zooming around the pond. Yet he was not dying in the pond, he was flying. At least he might meet his end as a nice meal for a bat, and he'll die a more noble death.

It sounds silly, but I think even a Common Green Darner would rather die with his boots on.

Respectfully submitted,


P.S. Rosie, I still can't find my picture of the Dragonhunter I took a few years ago. So instead, here's a 12-Spotted Skimmer (L. pulchella) from a slide I took a year ago. A little fuzzy but she was a long way away.


Rosie said...

Spectacular spots! I'm sending you a baskettail soon.

mk said...

You guys are big giant nerds. And I love you for it.

canoelover said...

I am writing a nerd manifesto.