Citrine Forktails

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Those of you who follow this blog regularly know that I have eclectic taste.  Basically, I’ll photograph anything containing DNA.  I believe that I can  find beauty in almost any living thing.

Recently, I took time out from photographing migratory birds to hunt for damselflies and dragonflies.  I’ve mentioned that autumn seems to be peak season for these beautiful insects.  That season is coming to an end with the arrival (finally!!) of cooler temperatures, so it’s important to photograph what’s available when it remains available.  To that end, a couple of weeks ago, I took a drive down to St. David.  It is a tiny hamlet built on the banks of the San Pedro River in the high desert about 50 miles southeast of Tucson.  The town includes a monastery and the monastery grounds contain a small pond.  That, plus proximity to the river, make it ground zero for dragonflies and damselflies.

It took me a while to adjust to the environment.  I didn’t see anything at first and I wondered whether my drive was for nought.  After I’d been slowly walking for about 30 minutes, I noticed several tiny insects flying among the blades of grass at ankle level.  I got down on my hands and knees to check out these insects and discovered to my delight that they were damselflies.  These insects were small even for damselflies, averaging about an inch in length.  Their bodies were so slender as to render them virtually invisible unless the light hit them just right.

These very small damselflies were Citrine Forktails.  These are truly beautiful insects, although one must get up close to appreciate just how beautiful they are.  The male is a pale lemon yellow with extraordinary jade green eyes.


An immature individual is tangerine-colored.


Here’s a female — pale blue in color.  What makes this picture so interesting to me is that she’s captured prey — a tiny syrphid fly — and she’s in the process of devouring it. We tend to forget that damselflies are fierce predators, albeit tiny ones.


These images remind me just how beautiful is the wildlife in our world.  It’s worth one’s while to get down on one’s hands and knees occasionally and look closely.

Images made with a Canon 5DS-R, 180mm f3.5L Macro Lens+1.4x telextender, assisted by Canon 600EX-RT Speedlite and stabilized by monopod, M setting, ISO 160. The first two images shot at f13 @ 1/160, the third image shot at f16 @ 1/160.


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