Darth Dragonfly

by Carl Strang

When I first was learning to identify dragonflies I was stationed at Willowbrook Forest Preserve. The marsh there attracts a rich diversity of species, and to this day there are several I have yet to see elsewhere in DuPage County. My binoculars were inferior then, and I did not have digital photographic equipment. The UFO technique  was several years in the future. One species that appeared in late spring to early summer especially intrigued me. I called it Darth.

Common baskettail 1b

It looked very dark and featureless, you see. It never landed to give me a good look at it. It was always on the move, and very aggressive, chasing away any dragonfly that entered its territory regardless of size or species. As the days passed, I gradually accumulated enough bits of observations that I was able to identify it as the common baskettail.

Common baskettail 2b

These photos are from May’s Lake in recent days, where abundant males have divided practically the entire shoreline into territories. There are a couple other, similar species of small baskettails that could occur in northeast Illinois, but for the moment at least I am calling all of Mayslake’s insects common baskettails. A few have the small black basal wing spots which are found only on this species in the group, but they do not appear on all individuals. Except for those spots I see no differences in color, size, shape, or behavior among the Mayslake dragonflies. As always, I am open to change should new information come to me.

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