Although this blog is mostly devoted to tiny, obscure insects, once in a while I encounter something big and conspicuous that seems worth sharing. And so today I find myself writing a second consecutive post without any leafminers in it—though it was in search of an elusive leafminer of false hellebore (Veratrum viride) that I wandered over to the edge of a small brook this morning. There, perched atop a skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) leaf, I spotted this dragonfly naiad:
After checking that it wasn’t just an empty skin, I decided to hang around for a minute and see if the adult started to emerge. Sure enough, one minute later I saw something bulging from the middle of its thorax.
Although my camera battery was nearly dead when I arrived, it managed to hang on throughout the ensuing spectacle, so you can now witness it in a fraction of the time, and with none of the accompanying mosquitoes.
Fifty-one minutes had now gone by. During that time, I was keeping an eye on its neighbor, who looked like this when I arrived:
Thirty-seven minutes in:
At forty-five minutes, its wings suddenly popped open:
And five minutes later, it flew away, leaving its exuviae still clinging to the leaf:
I didn’t feel the need to hang around for another hour to see the first one through to this point. Not far away, I found another that was still perched atop its exuviae but had finished getting “colored in”:
Today was evidently the day for these to emerge; there were numerous others along a short stretch of the brook. Here’s one more:
I’m not sure exactly what these are, beyond “some kind of clubtail” (Gomphidae). I think identifying these to species often requires a close look at the tip of the abdomen, and this may or may not cut it:
Edit: Ben Coulter and Dave Small concur that these are Southern Pygmy Clubtails (Lanthus vernalis).