Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Snake doctors



Dragonflies are tough. I can't make this one exactly fit any of the pictures on BugGuide or Giff Beaton's site. I think it's one of the Libellula species but I'm not even sure of that.

Possibly a Slaty Skimmer (Libellula incesta). (!)
Or Bar-winged Skimmer (Libellula axilena).
Or Great Blue Skimmer (Libellula vibrans).
Or I'm just fixated on Skimmers and it's not actually one of those. None of them look quite right.



I think this one is a female Common Whitetail (Plathemis lydia).

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WikiThings I learned while trying to ID these dragonflies (sometimes called Snake Doctors here in the south):

The fossil record shows a Permian-period dragonfly with a whopping wingspan of almost 30 inches (76 cm).

The largest modern-day dragonfly has a wingspan of 7.5 inches (19 cm), and the smallest reaches only .75 inch (20 mm).

They are the world's fastest insects.

They have nearly a 360° range of vision.

Libellula was also the name of some prototype aircraft with odd wing designs.

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If anyone knows what the first one is, please leave a comment or email me.

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Update:
Nuthatch has given me a positive ID: female Slaty Skimmer. And a new word: pruinose! (Having a whitish, waxy, powdery covering or bloom on the surface.) Thanks Nuthatch.

13 comments:

DeeMom said...

awesome pictures

robin andrea said...

I am not very good at ID'ing anything, but I do know how hard it can be to photograph these Snake Doctors. Great pics.

lime said...

i don't know the name but i am impressed that you captured them!

Nuthatch said...

This is a female Slaty Skimmer, an old pruinose one.

Start with gender: only female libellulids should have bulging tips like that.

Great Blue Skimmer females are brown. Males are usually paler. Both sexes have white faces.

Bar-winged Skimmers would have black along top edge of wing.

Most female Slaty Skimmer would be browner, not all have dark wing tips, you can Google up some images that match yours.

KFarmer said...

Pretty :)

Chris said...

I have the most difficult time IDing dragonflies. Then again, I'm more of an Ornithologist than an Entomologist ()even though I love photographing bugs, too. Nuthatch sounds like s/he knows what they're talking about though. Good luck!

Rurality said...

Thanks everybody!

Thanks so much Nuthatch, both for the ID and the new word (pruinose)! I need to work on seeing dragonflies better.

I can remember looking at birds but not really being able to SEE them, if you know what I mean. Not as a whole... I guess it just takes practice.

Iowa Gardening Woman said...

I don't know what the first one is but I know love watching dragonflies also, great photos.

jojo said...

Can't help you on the id. but do you know if they bite?

so odd that i came to your site tonight as one is buzzing around my office. and i want to catch him and send him on his merry way but, am afraid they bite... :)

Rurality said...

From what I read, they will only bite if you try to catch them. And even then, most of them can't bite hard enough to break the skin.

I don't think I've ever had one get inside before! Good luck.

mountainmelody said...

You take such great photos!

lisa said...

Thanks for the informative post! I really like these bugs, but never set out to ID them.

New Orleans News Ladder said...

Hey! I was looking around for Snake Doctor pictures and found you. I love yer blog and hung it on my Second Line!
Thank you,
Bruce
Editilla~New Orleans News Ladder
ps~I'm looking for a picture of a dragonfly riding the head of a water moccasin, they way they do where I grew up in the MS delta. The Indians and old Black Folk always tol'me that they called them Snake Doctors as they ride along with the snake and stitch it up if it gets wounded. They are also called "The Devil's needle" and "The Spinster's Best Friend".
Cool, eh?
You Rock.