Damselfly and Dragonfly Novelties

by Carl Strang

This has been an interesting week of damselflies and dragonflies at Mayslake Forest Preserve. Item One: on Monday I photographed this spreadwing damselfly in the south stream corridor prairie.

Sweetflag spreadwing

Most spreadwing species show clear pale undersides. This one had two bars of darker color dividing the pale area. Two of our local damselflies show patterns like this, but one of them is much larger than this average sized individual, so it is a sweetflag spreadwing. This male still is maturing. That’s why the underbelly markings are so pale: they are fading, as a whitish pruinosity covers them. The abdomen tip likewise will become pale. This was the seventh species of spreadwing I’ve observed at Mayslake in the past three years.

Item two: On Wednesday, Mayslake’s eighth spreadwing species appeared.

Great spreadwing

The great spreadwing is enormous, fully the length of many dragonflies, though with a damselfly’s slender proportions. Great spreadwings prefer small streams in DuPage County, and this one was close to the outlet stream’s origin at May’s Lake.

Item three: While I was marveling anew at the great spreadwing’s special qualities, I noticed a couple dark brown dragonflies chasing one another above the stream. One of them landed, and adopted the odd posture shown in the photo.

Note the strong curve of the abdomen, which she held for a long time. It is just like the position a common green darner adopts when laying eggs.

This was my first observation of egg laying by a shadow darner. It appears that she is attaching her eggs above the water line to this piece of dead wood.

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