May 13, 2011

Tiny Little Creatures

With the change in weather, the dragonflys and damselflys are starting to appear.  I have not yet seen the bright red-orange dragonflys (the ones that would land on the end of my bamboo wand last year).  I did, however, capture an electric blue damsel fly while we were crossing the creek in search of wild cherries.

Damselflies are similar to dragonflies, but the adults can be differentiated by the fact that the wings of most damselflies are held along, and parallel to, the body when at rest. Furthermore, the hindwing of the damselfly is essentially similar to the forewing, while the hindwing of the dragonfly broadens near the base. Damselflies are also usually smaller, weaker fliers than dragonflies, and their eyes are separated.

Damselflies undergo incomplete metamorphosis, with an aquatic nymph stage. The female lays eggs in water, sometimes in underwater vegetation, or high in trees in bromeliads and other water-filled cavities. Nymphs are carnivorous, feeding on daphnia, mosquito larvae, and various other small aquatic organisms, using extendable jaws similar to those of the dragonfly nymph. The gills of damselfly nymphs are large and external, resembling three fins at the end of the abdomen. After moulting several times, the winged adult emerges and eats flies, mosquitoes, and other small insects. Some of the larger tropical species are known to feed on spiders, hovering near the web and plucking the spider from its nest.

This is what he looks like up close:

As we were walking to check the mail, this little guy was in the cat tails taking a little nap:

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