Whether I look up, down, or somewhere between, all that fly have captured my attention lately.
My heart flutters when a female River Jewelwing, with her iridescent body flies into my space.
But it’s those two-toned wings with their white spots or stigmas (indicating it’s a female for male’s don’t feature the spots) folded over their backs that wow me the most. Though their wings may appear to be two different colors, and these were taken in two different river locations, they are really the same. It’s the very nature of being iridescent, where all colors of light are reflected, that makes them appear as either black or bronze. You know what else I like about this damselfly–it was eating an insect.
And then I turned on my dragonfly eyes. Ever so slowly over the last few years I’m beginning to recognize some of the perchers by name, like this Four-spotted Skimmer. It certainly helps that they pause frequently and hold their wings out to the side, which is a dragonfly characteristic.
It’s the wings that are the defining points for me. All four feature a beautiful amber patch on the upper or leading edge. Do you see the golden veins? And then there are the black spots. Those in the middle or elbow of the wing are referred to as nodal, while the stigma is at the leading edge, the same as the female damselfly’s. Why four-spotted and not eight? I don’t have an answer, but perhaps it’s just plain easier to quickly count the four spots on the forewings before the insect flies off.
Last year it was the Calico Pennant that became one of my new species to recognize each time we met. This is a rather small skimmer with the most amazing wing pattern. Notice the dark patch near the tip of the wings, just beyond the yellow stigma. What I love most though is the stained-glass patch on the hindwings. This one was either a female or an immature for its coloration was yellow; the male stands out in red. I have yet to encounter a male this year, but trust it will happen.
Sometimes it’s not the wings that are the showiest part, like on this Dusky Clubtail,
and Racket-tailed Emerald, but there is beauty in simplicity.
Wings on other insects are also worth observing, like the purplish ones on a Large Flathead Pine Heartwood Borer Beetle, aka Metallic Wood Boring Beetle. Though it’s supposed to be a noisy flyer, I only saw it clinging to a leaf on a recently harvested hill–meaning there’s lots of dead pine heartwood nearby.
Only a few feet away, I had my first encounter (at least that I can recall) with an Eastern-Eyed Click Beetle. Click beetles get their names from the sound they emit when they flip themselves upright. I didn’t have the opportunity to hear that sound for I’m actually sharing these two photos out of order.
When I first met him, he was upright and may have flipped over to pretend to play dead. So I saved this photo to show second because of those “eyes” on the thorax and then the mottled black with white specked wings. The “eyes” are intended to frighten away predators. As an adult, the click beetle doesn’t dine on much, though occasionally it feeds on the larva of wood-boring beetles–thus there existed the possibility of an interesting intersection.
When a Canadian Swallowtail flew in to my range, backlighting by the sun helped me see the overlap of its fore and hindwings as evidenced by the deeper yellow arch. I also noticed a tattering on one forewing. Butterflies are so beautiful and take such a beating both from their surroundings and any predator.
The same can be said for Luna Moths and by a hindwing left behind, I wondered when this one met its demise for so faded was it. But the “eye” on the wing was still evident, as well as the downy coating of this giant silkmoth. Of course, I would have preferred to see it alive, but was still thrilled with such a delicate find.
Another great find was the discovery of a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker who has been feeding its young throughout each day. Do you see the hole in the tree right beside the bird’s breast? I could hear the young located inside and have spent more minutes than I should admit to watching the parents fly in and out.
Soon the baby sapsuckers up in the tree will prepare to fledge. Likewise, if all goes according to plan, these four Veery eggs found in a ground nest (mom and pop were accidentally flushed out, but we trust they returned) will hatch and four more sets of wings will take to the airways.
One wing, two wing, clear wing, metallic wing, butterfly wing, beetle wing–so many wings worth noticing.