Thursday, May 31, 2012


Luckily, I remembered to look out the window the other day to check the progress of the damselfly nymphs in the pot of water just outside the glass doors to my deck...

Oh, no. Missed it! (See the wee little spider hanging behind it?
There was a wee little spider dangling off the next one, too...)

Missed it again, darn it. But the dew made for an interesting picture.

Note the grip it has on the leaf. That's important.

Aha! This was actually the first one I found.
After finding the empty casings, I breathed on this one
just to make sure the damselfly was still home. It was!

Jumping ahead a number of minutes...

After much inactivity interspersed with short bursts of violent wriggling (hence the death grip [life grip?] on the leaf) the adult damselfly starts to emerge from the nypmh's exoskeleton. It looked like it was coming out of the mouth, but as the photo below shows, the split was just behind the eyes.

Almost out...

Free at last!

Even if I was going to be late for work (which I was, but luckily I was covering the shop two minutes from home instead of the one 35 minutes away, and had ten minutes to spare before the opening bell), I still had to feed the cats. After patiently watching the laborious process of emergence for the better part of an hour, of course it took hardly any time at all for the wings to expand, so I don't have any photos of the in-between stages. The videos I took are likewise minutes of nothing with split-second wrigglings.

Damselflies are not very large, although this species
(whatever it is) is easily twice the size of the tiniest I've seen.

Best shot out of a lousy few.

After spending an hour sitting on the doorsill watching the one nymph, I happened to glance over and down alongside the back of one of the flower pots. An older damsel had been hardening about a foot away from me the entire time. It didn't like a camera lens staring at it and while it was still "incomplete"--no color to speak of--it was able to fly. And did. Sorry, little one! Be safe.

In all, I found five casings, these two nymphs, and one nymph still in the water. It was there the next morning as well. Guess it has determined it's safer there than out in the wide world!


It finally decided to leave the water! I was looking for it when it flew up from below my feet just outside the door.

I never did get to see what the final colors were. This one left too soon, too. (Granted, I kept walking in and out of the door right next to it, but it seemed to have been the wind that finally sent it to a safer roost somewhere.)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Still growing...

The damselfly nymphs are getting bigger. Good thing I work at a nature center; I can just imagine the phone call: "Going to be late today; the nymphs are emerging!" (At least my old boss wasn't around when I took the butterfly chrysalis in to the real estate office the day it was ready to emerge...)

Three out of six nymphs I know were in there;
the other long skinny things are evergreen needles.

(The washed-out pale stuff is duckweed.)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The things have wings!

Had something of a surprise last week when I checked on the damselfly nymphs...

They have wings! Focus is off a bit, but on some pics I could make out all four wings. I wasn't expecting that; I had assumed they unfolded from inside when the larval skin was shed like a dragonfly does, or a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis.

There's always something to learn when you start looking closely.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Serendipity strikes again! And it has really neat feet...

Looking out the right window at the right time pays off yet again! Of course, my location certainly helps; it seems rather well suited to Northern Gray Treefrogs.

There was a little blob of gray on my decorative (seriously in need of painting) arch over the steps on the back deck...

After a bit of a photo session, the little blob started eyeing up the other side of the arch... I blinked and she was hanging off the cross piece two and a half feet away.

Apparently this was not where she wanted to be--indeed, it looked uncomfortable even for a frog with feet like that--and she launched herself once more.

She dug herself into the pot for a few hours, then went on with her explorations. I lost her once she left the top of the rail.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sunbathers of a different sort...

Five-lined skins, an adult male (pale, indistinct body markings but bright orangey-red head) and probably a young adult female (large but still with visible "lines" and blue color to her tail--she'll fade and go more gray as she ages [gee, that sounds familiar]), and a Red Admiral (butterfly) enjoying the sun hitting my silver maple in the late afternoon of May 4th, 2012, the Day of a Million Butterflies.

At least three southern species--the admirals, Question Marks, and American Ladies--migrated north in huge numbers (easily 100-200 passing per minute, for hours) this year. I was quite happy to find the lizards; they gave me a different photographic take on what I knew would be dozens of butterfly photos from the "Event".

What are you doing way up there, girlfriend?

Not typically an arboreal species, but the books say that skinks will climb trees. Obviously. Although I've never encountered one quite this high off the ground (8-10ft, well above my head) before.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

More winged dancers...

This time it's damselflies! Okay, so they aren't exactly done yet...

These little beauties(-to-be) showed up in one of my water garden containers this year! I'm sooo glad I listened to Pat Sutton when I mentioned to her last year that I wished to get some Gambusia (mosquito fish) to control the skeeter larvae and she replied with a gasp, "No, don't do that!"

Given that most of my Aquatic Biology course was spent flipping over rocks in running streams, I had completely forgotten that there are some insects whose aquatic larvae/nymphs prefer still water...

The pot to the left rear of the grouping above is the one with the damselfly nymphs--and no skeeters. The largest "pond" (out of shot here; largest pot in photo below) has mosquito larvae but no damselfly nymphs. Hmmm... *lol* Yes, damselflies and their heftier cousins the dragonflies are predatory. But I still want fish; oh, decisions, decisions...