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Author Topic: Widow skimmer dragonfly (Libellula luctuosa), immature male  (Read 428 times)

Mark Nadler

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Widow skimmer dragonfly (Libellula luctuosa), immature male
« on: August 21, 2022, 08:52:46 pm »

Comments and criticisms welcomed.  Also, if I have misidentified this critter then please tell me.

thanks
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Eric Myrvaagnes

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Re: Widow skimmer dragonfly (Libellula luctuosa), immature male
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2022, 11:11:52 pm »

I can't identify it, but it's a gorgeous portrait.
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francois

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Re: Widow skimmer dragonfly (Libellula luctuosa), immature male
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2022, 05:36:44 am »

No idea on identification but yes, It's a very nice photo and I like the slightly diagonal composition.
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Francois

Arlen

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Re: Widow skimmer dragonfly (Libellula luctuosa), immature male
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2022, 11:29:04 am »

It is very nice indeed, Mark. A strong portrait.
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fgorga

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Re: Widow skimmer dragonfly (Libellula luctuosa), immature male
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2022, 11:38:32 am »

Spectacular photograph!

You have all of the critter in good focus and a pleasingly out of focus background... hard to do.

I agree with francois, the diagonal composition is strong.

As for the identification, I agree that this is a widow skimmer.

However, I think that it is a female based on the terminal appendages... i.e. the distal end of the abdomen. In males (immature or not) the tip of the abdomen tapers to a very thin point. In the female, the tip of the abdomen is fairly wide as it is in this individual.

Also, in my experience, most immature males show at least a hint of the white wing coloration that is present when they are mature. Although this may be this is absent in very, very young individuals. I am not sure.

Identification and sexing odes is not easy. I have been doing this for going on two decades and regularly have unsolved or incompletely identified individuals.

It is worth noting that that some species are nigh impossible to distinguish from (even very good) photographs as the distinguishing features are only seen by examining the terminal appendages under a (10x or 20x) hand lens. This, of course, means having the individual in hand. This is especially true for damselflies but also applies to some groups of dragonflies.

Regards,

--- Frank (www.gorga.org/blog)

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Mark Nadler

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Re: Widow skimmer dragonfly (Libellula luctuosa), immature male
« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2022, 08:48:13 pm »

Eric, I appreciate your kind comment.

forge, I tried multiple sites to try to identify it.  I finally found what I considered to be a good match at https://trekohio.com/dragonflies/.  Let me know if you have any further thoughts on it.  You obviously know more than I do.

francois, thanks for commenting on the composition.

Arlen, I originally included more environment in the image.  However, after zooming in on it a portrait emerged that I liked so that I went with it.

mark
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fgorga

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Re: Widow skimmer dragonfly (Libellula luctuosa), immature male
« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2022, 10:24:43 pm »

Mark,

I agree that this photo (from the website you cite) is an immature male:



The tip of its "tail" (which is really the abdomen) shows male terminal appendages. The tip of the "tail" on the individual in your photo is subtly different... it is a bit blunter than that of the male.

Also, note that this individual shows traces of the white patches on the wings found in mature males (but not females). This, again is very subtle, is most evident on the hind wings because of the glare on the fore wings in this photo.

Thus, I still think that the individual in your photo is a female.

The terminal appendages are secondary sexual organs used for mating. The male's terminal appendages are used to clasp the female behind the neck to initiate mating. When the pair is coupled this way the female then swings her abdomen up so that its tip is at the base of the males thorax. This results in a "mating wheel". The female uses her terminal appendages to retrieve sperm from the male. Thus the terminal appendages in the two sexes serve very different roles and are different structurally.

That is probably more than you wanted to know!  ::)

Here is one of my photos showing a mating wheel in a different species, the frosted whiteface:



Regards,

--- Frank (www.gorga.org/blog)

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Mark Nadler

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Re: Widow skimmer dragonfly (Libellula luctuosa), immature male
« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2022, 12:27:38 am »

forge, thanks for the detailed analysis.  I will have to learn to look closer.  I also like your mating image.

mark
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