Sunday, August 14, 2011

Dog Day Early Evening

I left off last time with  a question. What was this thing sitting on my finger?
Well its whats left after one of these...

 is finished emerging from it's larval form. The thing on my finger is the abandoned dried out husk, the last larval skin of a Southern Dog Day Cicada (Tibicen davisi). You find these things on tree trunks, fence posts and in this case Banished Jr's swing set. They usually emerge only once the sun has gone down. But this one chose dusk and close enough to the deck to be seen moving.  
These hot August days we find a dozen or so fresh cast-offs every morning. And the 'song'  isn't that gentle sussuration  recalled from southern Europe. These things sound like over worked powertools in the trees as the temperature rises. 

We also had a couple of our less frequent dragonfly visitors in the garden today.

This is a female Widow Skimmer. I snapped a male in July at Hoffler Creek.

And this very striking deep blue dragon is a male Slaty Skimmer (Libellula incesta ).

 The Spangled Skimmer is very similar but they can be told apart by the stigma on the wings. These are the dark bars on the leading edges of each wing. They vary from species to species and are sometimes an important ID point. Here they are long and wholly dark. The Spangled  has a long stigma too but its half dark and half white.

And this Eastern Pond Hawk just looks good.


  1. Hi there from across the pond!

    Lovely dragonfly pics - specially that 12-spot skimmer
    Don't they have great names!

    Good to see the next generation of Banisheds are getting into the swing too

    All warm wishes - more dragonflies here but no Swallowtail caterpillars for miles. Lucky you.


  2. Hi Martin, yes they do have rather more interesting names over here. But then there are so many more to name. When I was in the UK there was a list, combined, of dragons and damsels that had 37 species on it. That included migrants & rarities. Virginia alone has a list of around 170. I think the U.K list has grown by one or two thanks to some more migrants following the warmer temperatures northwards but thats still a hell of a difference.

    I have a dozen pupae that I've tracked down this time for the swallowtails so a fair chance of some new emergence pics this time. Eyes glued every early morning from Friday on.

    I haven't downloaded that old camera yet so its still a mystery exactly what Jr. was snapping there on the shore, but he was really into it.

  3. 170 species in one state! Good old abundant America. I wonder if Virginia has a State Dragonfly. I like the US practice of states adopting everything from minerals to bees.

    Are you going to post some pics of the Great Dismal Swamp on fire?

    Warm wishes


  4. We do have a state insect, the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail but alas not a state dragonfly. You did prompt me to look though and I found this list. Some states will designate just about anything seemingly at the drop of a hat.

    We in Virginia do have a state marine mollusc, the oyster and a state fossil Chesapecten jeffersonius. Its a fossil scallop named for both the Chesapeake bay and Thomas Jefferson