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Celebrating Damselflies

Compared to the (mostly) much larger dragonflies, damselflies look delicate, and their eyes protrude to each side giving them a bug-eyed/hammerhead appearance. A dragonfly’s hind pair of wings is broader than its front pair, but a damselfly’s four wings are roughly equal. And while dragonflies hold their wings out to the side when they perch (usually), damselflies can hold their wings together over their backs.

The 12 Bugs of Christmas

It’s time again for the Annual “Twelve Bugs of Christmas” event (and, coincidentally, episode #350 in the series, by the BugLady’s numbering). Here are a (Baker’s) dozen insects that will not be getting (or who have already had) their own BOTWs. Feel free to hum along, and have a lovely Holiday.

Summer Summary

As the Bug Season winds down, the BugLady would like to celebrate summer by sharing a baker’s dozen of the pictures she’s taken in the past few months.

The 12 Bugs of Christmas

With apologies to Olde English Folk Songs everywhere, here is the Second Annual Twelve Bugs of Christmas, featuring a Baker’s Dozen that were photographed this year but that did/will not appear in BOTWs. These pictures are a tribute to the joy of stumbling into the right place at the right time.

Four Bluets and a Dancer – and a Forktail (Family Coenagrionidae)

Damselflies—four bluets, a dancer, and a forktail—have in common that, here in Wisconsin at least, the males are described as “unmistakable.” Most of the 17 species of bluets in Wisconsin have a black-and-blue striped thorax and a black-and-blue abdomen. Bluets are informally divided into the “blue bluets” like the Double-striped bluet, whose predominantly blue abdomens are decorated by black stripes/rings, and the “black bluets,” whose black abdomens have blue rings/stripes.

Sedge Sprite (Family Coenagrionidae)

Sedge Sprites are found across southern Canada and the northern half of the U.S. Although they are more common in the eastern part of their range, Mead calls them, surprisingly, “perhaps the most abundant damselfly in the north woods.” Midges are probably a big part of their diet, and the aquatic naiads feed on any small critters they can catch.

River Damsels (Family Calopterygidae)

Ebony Jewelwings and American Rubyspots lay their eggs in the stems of submerged plants or in decaying wood in waters with a moderate current. Males guard but are not in contact with their ladies during egg laying. Other Odonates may hunt far from streams and ponds, but the Broad-winged damselflies tend to be homebodies. Rubyspots seldom gain more than a foot or two in altitude, but the BugLady has seen jewelwings six feet off the ground. They are perchers—sitting on plants or rocks and sallying forth to hunt or to defend their territories.

Chasing Damselfies

The BugLady and her camera have been skulking about the pond edges, feeding the mosquitoes and looking for damselflies, and there are now has many fuzzy damselfly images on the cutting room floor. Damselflies often hang out where it is dark and green and leafy (and protected from predators, which include dragonflies), and generally stay below waist height.

A Passel of Predators

The BugLady has been a fan of predators since she was old enough to lisp out the word. She likes the cuts of their collective jibs and their matter-of-fact fierceness. To her, the “eat-ers” are far more interesting than the “eat-ees.”

Spreadwing Damselfly (Family Lestidae)

The young of Slender Spreadwing Damselflies live underwater, and then climb out onto land/vegetation, emerge from their larval exoskeletons, and fly away. They are carnivorous in both stages. They are found near shaded, permanent ponds and slow streams over the eastern half of the U.S. in July, August and September. The male’s abdomen, proportionally longer than female’s, lacks the light-colored tip of some other spreadwings.