I never expected it to be so, but stalking insects has become a favorite pastime. And this beautiful fall day, with temps in the upper 60˚s, provided plenty to admire if one took the time to look. The best way to spy the insects, for often so camouflaged are they, is to stand still for minutes on end and try to cue in on your surroundings.
Grasshoppers, their armored bodies so intricately designed, drew my attention first and I spent an hour on and off watching a male and female in hopes that they might set a date. On my clock, they never did, though I suspect when I wasn’t looking, they snuggled under a leaf.
Another was a Robber Fly that flew from boat to boat and root to root as is its habit in this habitat. So named for its ferocious manner of pouncing from the air onto its prey, I didn’t have the good fortune to observe that behavior. But do check out that bristly body.
And then I wandered over to the hammock and a Stink Bug made its presence known. I surprised myself with the find for it was almost camouflaged as it moved upon the ropes.
And somehow, cueing in on the Stink Bug provided the opportunity to see another dangling below the ropes. I thought I’d been in insect heaven up to this point, but the position was cinched when I spotted the dragonfly.
It didn’t move and so I was sure it was dead, and gave thanks for the opportunity to snap photos of it.
Really, it was a perfect specimen, its body and wings in immaculate shape. I had visions of my insect collection growing by one.
To that end, I took the dragonfly from the hammock and placed it on the cover of the well. Giddy as could be at my good luck in locating such a fine specimen on a mid-October day, I began snapping photo after photo as I took the opportunity to get to know this guy better.
It wasn’t until I placed him on the palm of my hand, however, that I began to notice more than its mosaic thorax.
Suddenly, his wings began to beat, ever so slowly and methodically. And yet, he remained in the same spot on my hand.
I gave constant thanks for I couldn’t believe the opportunity I’d been gifted to examine this magnificent being at such a close perspective. My typical encounter with a darner dragonfly is that they cruise over water in almost constant motion and rarely land. And yet . . . here one sat upon my hand with no intention to move on any time soon.
Have you ever looked at a dragonfly in such close proximity? And taken time to notice all the hair on its thorax?
Even its underside is covered in hair. And those folded legs. Remember when I found it dangling below the hammock? Its legs were extended back then.
My handling of the dragonfly was gentle for I wanted it to fly off, but at the same time, my fascination got the better of me. The face provided part of its identification for it had a thick black crossline stripe in the middle of the face that looked rather like a mustache.
I assumed it had been caught in a spider web under the hammock, and really, it did seem a few pieces of silk were stuck to one wing. With extreme caution I tried to brush them away, but feared I’d tear a wing in the process.
Back in my hand, I noted another facial idiosyncrasy–a T-spot with a robust upright and a top cross-piece–almost like a cat face upon its “nose.”
But what was really noticeable was the fact that suddenly my friend arched his body as he might when meeting his love. Was he as in love with me as I with him?
Just as suddenly as he arched, he began to relax.
And then, another movement . . . his bent legs that had been folded close to his thorax moved and he stood upon his knees.
What I couldn’t understand was why he didn’t extend those legs.
Rather, he started to do something else. Keep an eye on his head.
He cocked it as if to say, “Hey lady, it’s getting late. What are you going to do about me?”
I did what I hope was the right thing even if it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I placed him on a leaf upon the well cover. Yes, I so wanted to take him inside, but he wasn’t meant to be inside and whatever happens to him, happens. I can’t control his world, despite that questioning face that tugged at my heartstrings.
What was our encounter all about? And why didn’t he behave in typical darner fashion? I’ll never understand, but I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to enjoy today’s afternoon dragon delight. Indeed.