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October is peak dragonfly and damselfly season for me in the sense that I find these colorful insects to be very accessible this time of year. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve concentrated on obtaining as many good images as possible.
Tonight I’m featuring a common local dragonfly, the Variegated Meadowhawk. This species is most prevalent in the fall and can be found near the borders of ponds and streams. It tends to survive later into the year than most dragonflies and damselflies in these parts and one can occasionally encounter a Meadowhawk even in December.
They are very beautiful. The males of this species are a bright crimson in color with banded abdomens that alternate crimson and pewter.
These dragonflies are somewhat smaller than the big Skimmers and Darners but they still are respectable in size, averaging about two inches in length. They are cooperative posers. It’s possible to approach a Variegated Meadowhawk quite closely if one moves towards the insect slowly and carefully.
The individual in the third image appears to be an immature male, lacking the brilliant scarlet coloring of the mature insect.
Notice how the first and third individual have tattered wings. One sees that a lot this time of year. Many species of birds hunt dragonflies, particularly in the fall. My guess is that the individuals with shredded wings have escaped attacks. They fly remarkably well even with large chunks of their wings missing. Evidently, these insects have evolved quite a bit of redundancy in their wings.
Images made with a Canon 5DS-R, 180 mm f3.5L Macro Lens+1.4x telextender, assisted by Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite, stabilized by monopod, M setting, ISO 160. The first and second images shot at f9 @ 1/160, the third images shot at f14 @ 1/160.