Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Eastern Amberwing Dragonfly
These little dragonflies are so dainty and delicate looking. Called the Eastern Amberwing (Perithemis tenera). Their name comes from the lovely amber color of their wings. These are very tiny dragonflies at about one inch. The male has solid colored wings (pictured) the female has darker patches on their wings. Often while perching these dragonflies will move their wings and abdomen up and down, making them look very wasp-like. So it isn't surprising that they are sometimes mistaken for wasps. They occur throughout the Eastern portion of the United States and are very common in Missouri. In fact, at the pond where this one was photographed there were a minimum of 30 fluttering about. Males of this species are very territorial and aggressively defend their territories from other males. Mating takes place in the form of a "mating wheel". Copulation may last from 3 seconds (giving new meaning to the term quicky) to as much as one hour. Very soon after mating the female will look for a suitable spot in nearby water to lay her eggs in bottom sediment. She may lay 1,000's of eggs. Eggs generally will hatch in about 1 to 8 weeks, depending upon the environment and the temperature. In some areas they may even overwinter in the egg stage. They are completely aquatic and live their life as a little water nymph. Once fully developed they will climb out of the water and hang onto a branch, stick or some other perch and shed their exoskeleton for the last time and the newly born adult will emerge. It takes some time for their wings to dry out completely before they are able to fly. Look for them near ponds, lakes and occassionally still streams. Like all dragonflies they are strictly meat eaters and feed on flying insects. they use their legs to "scoop" up unsuspecting insects. They bring the delectible morsal to their mouth and often times feed while in flight. Sometimes they will land and feed while perching. These are a very pretty dragonfly and should be easy to locate.