Archive for the ‘Dragonflies’ Tag

The 300-Million-Year Old Dance Of The Dragonfly   2 comments


August 18, 2019 Post from Kiko’s House blog (Blogger Shaun D. Mullen Passed Away in December 2019)

Dragonflies are among the world’s most ancient creatures and have been performing the mid-summer mating dance that I have observed almost every year of my life for 300 million years.  That’s more than 100 million years before dinosaurs appeared.

I can remember being fascinated by this dance as a youngster, although I didn’t understand that it was all about making baby dragonflies.

My brother and I would trap lightning bugs in Mason jars to sell to the man at the agricultural research station.  He paid us a dime a jar for his research into what made the bugs’ tails glow, but I would never consider trapping dragonflies for any amount of money.  Even then they occupied a special place in my world.

Perhaps it was because their dance reminded me of dog-fighting World War I flying machines, which captured my imagination at an early age, but I would like to think that the connection was more subtle.

I lived in Japan and traveled the Far East for a few years.  The dragonfly is revered in that part of the world and is depicted on everything from pottery to textiles. I recall one particularly glorious afternoon when I observed their mating dance in the backwater of a stream in the foothills below Mount Fuji.

After I returned to the States, I would take long walks up a dirt road next to a slow-flowing creek on hot mid-summer days, turn down a narrow footpath through high weeds and slip into the water.  It was refreshingly cool four or five feet beneath the surface and I loved to feel the chill percolate up into my chest and then my head.

Dragonflies colonize around creeks and ponds, so it usually wasn’t long before they were performing their dance around me.  Sometimes they would alight on my forehead – even in mating tandems — if I sat perfectly still and thought yoga thoughts and breathed yoga breaths. 

It was during this period that I first began reading about odonata, as this insect family is called.

I learned that the three species indigenous to my neck of the woods are members of the libellula genus.  These include my companions over many a summer — the bar-winged skimmer (Libellula axilena) and the less common great blue skimmer (Libellula vibrans). There also is the apparently elusive Jane’s meadowhawk (Sympetrum janeae), which is recognizable by its reddish body but has escaped my gaze.

I also learned that these species of dragonflies are short lived (seven to 10 weeks, although some species can live up to four years).  They also are territorial.

The mating dance is initiated by the male showing his genitals, of which he is endowed with two sets.  This display allows male and female to make sure that they are of the same species and therefore suitable mates.  The male then bends his abdomen so that one set of genitals touches the other, which is a sure-fire turn-on for the female, who curls her abdomen forward to make contact with the secondary genitalia and receives the sperm.

As I have often observed, the ritual can vary.

Sometimes the male grabs the female by the head or thorax for a “quickie” without going through the dance.  Other times the dance is long and elaborate, involving much diving and spinning, including mad charges in reverse, but in either event copulation takes less than a second. 

Sometimes male and female remain in tandem for several minutes, as if to say, “Was it as good for you as it was for me?”  The females are acutely sensitive to pollution and will lay their eggs only if the water is clean.  Other times they lay them on waterside plants. 

Sometimes the male acts as a lookout for the female as she lays the eggs he fertilized.  In fact, scientists say that males are so committed to their mating partners that they can display signs of jealousy if other males try to nose in.

A few years later, I lived in an old house a short walk from the creek and two particularly lovely spots — Ring Rock and the Burned Out Bridge. 

Ring Rock (also known as the Rock That David Sat On) is a massive limestone remnant of the furthest extent of the last Ice Age that protrudes from the water at a 25 degree angle. It is so named because an iron ring had been pounded into the rock perhaps 200 years ago so that the locals could tether their wagons to it and lower them into the creek to be cleaned — an early version of the car wash.   I never learned who David was, but I would slide into the creek below the rock — which was six or seven feet deep even in the mid-summer heat — and watch the dragonflies dance.

Alas, the rock attracted hikers and the occasional swimmer, so I moved on to the Burned Out Bridge. 

A pair of overgrown fieldstone foundations on either side of the creek are all that remain of this 19th century covered bridge, which is said to have been torched by a man in the early 1950s so that he and his son could fish undisturbed.  This is at a point just below where the west and middle branches of the creek converge, an area that is heavily silted and quite shallow.  It took all of one summer and part of the next, but I methodically moved sand and piled rocks until I had fashioned a pool about four feet deep where I could resume my dragonfly encounters.  My kids were too young to be of much help, but our big goofus of a black Labrador retriever became pretty good at picking up rocks and dropping them onto the sides of our pool.

It was here that I began seriously expanding my horizons to other fauna as I would sit quietly at periscope depth. 

There were rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus kykiss), restocked each spring for sport fishermen by the state fish and wildlife agency, and the occasional sunny (Lepomis machrochirus), as well as some wee fishies that I was never able to identify.  There were water-walking spiders (Dolomedes triton), black snakes (Elaphe obsoleta), a water moccasin (Ancistrodon piscivorus), which was a very rare sighting that far north of its southern habitat, and all sorts of toads and frogs, including little frogs called spring peepers (Pseudacris crucifer crucifer), so named because of the time of their arrival each year and their high-pitched trill.  The black lab would slog into the marshy areas between the creek and woods and ingest mouthsful of them.

It is mid-summer again.  It’s been too hot to trek up to the creek, but I was sitting near a fountain in the quiet university town where I used to live.

I put down the book I was reading, took off my sunglasses and let the sun beat on my face. My mind drifted back to my childhood and the illustrations in a favorite picture book. The young hero is sick and has been put to bed by his mother where he imagines that the quilt spread out below him is a make-believe world with villages, roads and farm fields.  Armies clash across this terrain and dog fighting aeroplanes bob, weave and loop overhead.  I grew drowsy and my mind drifted further when something drew me from my reverie and I opened my eyes.

It was dragonflies doing their dance over the fountain.

Shaun D. Mullen

PHOTOGRAPHS BY SAYHITOANT 

A Christmas Dragonfly   2 comments

Sabino Canyon August 7 2013Red-tailed Pennant Dragonfly (Male) — Image by kenne

I’m not a dragonfly expert, so I’m ready to be corrected. After researching southern Arizona dragonfly images, this is my best guess. Regardless, this guy makes for a nice Christmas dragonfly.

— kenne

 

Flame Skimmer Dragonfly   2 comments

Flame Skimmer-Edit-2-blogFlame Skimmer Dragonfly — Image by kenne

Fly, Dragonfly!

Water nymph, you have
climbed from the shallows to don
your dragon-colors.
Perched on a reed stem
all night, shedding your skin, you dry
your wings in moonlight.

Night melts into day.
Swift birds wait to snap you up.
Fly, dragonfly! Fly!

—  JOYCE SIDMAN

Dragonflies   2 comments

emporer-dragonflies-mating-1-of-1-ii-blogDragonflies — Image by kenne

What is it about a work of art, even when it is bought and sold in the market, that makes us distinguish it from . . . pure commodities? A work of art is a gift, not a commodity. . . works of art exist simultaneously in two “economies”, a market economy and a gift economy. Only one of these is essential, however: a work of art can survive without the market, but where there is no gift, there is no art.

— Lewis Hyde

The Dragonfly And The Fence — A Twisted Pair   7 comments

Sweetwater 09-21-13-8071-2 blog“Twisted Wire Dragonfly” — Image by kenne

TWISTER PAIR

Dragonflies abound
in the desert wetlands,
often landing
on cattail blades,
captured by photographers
painted by painters
for sale in shops named
“Cattails and Dragonflies.

One of life’s
enticing combos,
inspiring poets
and mythmakers
over the relationship
existing by the water
as if it were
an unbreakable bond.

What then of
the dragonfly that
rests its two pair
on a fence
of twisted pair
that separates
the desert from
desert wetlands.

Was this a case
of mistaken identity?
Not likely, with eyes
of a hundred lenses,
so was it a
“one-night stand”
brief act infidelity,
or a “middle-age crisis?

  — kenne

 

Path Of The Dragonfly   1 comment

Sweetwater 09-21-13-7998 blogDragonfly Image By kenne

“All paths lead nowhere, so it is important to choose a path that has heart”

— Carlos Castaneda

 

Dragonfly Computer Painting   Leave a comment

Sweetwater 9-21-13-8004 dragonfly art blogDragonfly Photoshop Painting — Image by kenne

Capturing The Moment — Dragonflys, Samurai Of The Desert   5 comments

Mt. Lemmon SCVN September 2013-8005 blog

Mt. Lemmon SCVN September 2013-8018 blog

Mt. Lemmon SCVN September 2013-8021 blog

Mt. Lemmon SCVN September 2013-8023 blogImages by kenne

DESERT SAMURAI

Although most of your species
are found in the tropics,
it’s a joy to find you near water
in the Sonoran desert with
your inspiring flight.

When I see you up close, I think,
What big eyes you have?”
360 degree vision,

two sets of wings, 
and a reverse gear – WOW!

An ability to seek out water
and adapt with dramatic ease,
the desert doesn’t stop you
from living life to the fullest –
always living in the moment.

You are an agent of change,
controlling your every movement,
whether on water, land or air
with such speed
and purity of movement.

No wonder the Samurai see you,
a symbol of power, agility and victory.
Knowing that your life may be short,
you have a great sense of self-awareness,
living life as the great dragonfly you are. 

“You are prepared from your head to your toe,
you are so ready, you are ready to go,
you can be part of this fabulous thing,
do what you do, my friend,
and bring what you being, oh”

kenne

Sweetwater 9-21-13-8027 blog

Sweetwater 9-21-13-8032 blogImages by kenne

Capturing The Moment — Scarlet Darter Dragonfly   7 comments

Sabino Canyon August 7 2013Scarlet Darter Dragonfly — Image by kenne (To see excellent photos of dragonflies and creatures of flight, check out Ned Harris’ Flickr account.)

The Copper Dragonfly

the transparent wings of
the copper dragonfly
yet another mirror
through the sky

— Stu Harley

 

Capturing The Moment — Dancing With A Dragonfly. . .   5 comments

SCVN Nature Walk #3“Dancing with a Dragonfly” — Image by kenne

dancing with a dragonfly…

The shimmer of blue changes 
As you dragonfly move,
Your cellophane wings
Fragile, yet brings
You to me,
I cannot see the world
As you do, true?

You can see mine
            Just fine.
The sunlight
glints as the 
Colour changes
To a different hue.

one moment
Green
The next
Blue

Dancing with you
As you float then soar,
is impossible …
As you pitch and roll
Leave me entranced
As you exit…

Without saying so much
As goodbye,

Must mean,
You will,
Be back,
Soon.

Please.

— by Darrell Wade Elverum 

Capturing The Moment: Frozen Dragonfly — Brrr!   3 comments

H6yMi6fUB_1JR964xxG8RxsYArlNNn1lR5PWutchIbNXzbCYopzRTQ1etu2JmF945UzWx8e02cDVSAPhoto by Donald Kolinski

It has been around freezing the last few morning in Sabino Canyon where I have taken photos of dragonflies in the past, but this guy was photographed near Jamestown, CO by Donald Kolinski. The image appeared in the National Geographic Photo Contest 2012.

kenne

Sex In The Desert Marsh — Dragon is Draggin’   1 comment

Dragon is Draggin’ — Image by kenne

Dragon is Draggin’

Dragonfly and Damselfly in tandem

Pausing on an old cattail leaf

She taps the water

Depositing eggs

Continuing tandem flight

Darting through the desert marsh

In their love “mating wheel.”

kenne

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