A blue dragonfly

So delicate are his two sets of wings, the black lace echoing the white cross-stitch of the cushion to make a pleasing effect. He was not shy, or frightened, a commanding presence for an impressive creature. dragonfly2 12-7-11I admit I always get dragonflies and damselflies mixed up, so is this a dragonfly?

So excuse me for getting a bit technical. These are the definitions from the helpful British Dragonfly Society.

Dragonflies are insects in the sub-order Anisoptera (meaning “unequal-winged”). Hind wings are usually shorter and broader than forewings. They are usually large, strongly flying insects that can often be found flying well away from water. When at rest, they hold their wings out from the body, often at right angles to it. The eyes are very large and usually touch, at least at a point. The larvae have no external lamellae (gill plates).

Damselflies are insects in the sub-order Zygoptera (meaning “paired-wings”). All four wings are near enough equal in size and shape. They are usually small, weakly flying insects that stay close to the water margins or water surface. When at rest, most species hold their wings along the length of their abdomen. The Emerald Damselflies are an exception and usually hold their wings partly open when at rest. They are therefore known as Spreadwings in North America. The eyes are always separated, never touching. The larvae have external plates (lamellae) at the end of the abdomen, which act as accessory gills.

So this is definitely a dragonfly and we love him because he eats mosquitos, flies, ants and wasps, also bees which we are not so happy about. Thirty bee hives have appeared in Pablo’s olive grove, belonging to a local villager, so we are hopeful of being able to buy local honey this autumn.

My guess is that he is an Emperor dragonfly as they are the largest dragonfly in Europe, up to 3.1in in length. Whatever he is, he wasn’t timid and remained sitting on his silk cushion for over an hour. dragonfly1 12-7-115 to remember
una libélula – a dragonfly
las alas – the wings
el encaje negro – the black lace
técnico/a – technical
la definición – the definition

9 thoughts on “A blue dragonfly

  1. Bird Watcher

    Hi again Sandra.
    Beautiful images of a male Western Spectre dragonfly (Boyeria Irene) – appropriately known as “Ghost Dragonfly” by Germans – which has a penchant for flying at dusk (or keeping in shade under trees or roosting in porches or under eaves during the heat of the day). This species is found around the Western Mediterranean primarily in Southern France, Spain and Italy.
    By the way, Andalucia is one of the very best regions in the whole of Europe for dragonflies and damselflies. There are quite a few exotic African species that have moved into Southern Spain in the last decade or so, such as the beautiful Banded Grounding, Long Skimmer, Black Pennant, Violet Drop-wing and Orange-winged Drop-wing. Spain has always been a popular destination for UK birdwatchers due to the high number of different bird species, but like me, many UK birdwatchers also now obsess over butterflies and dragonflies in the height of Summer when the birds are thinner on the ground. ” Trips to Andalucia for dragonfly photography are thus becoming increasingly popular- and I plan on doing one myself very soon!
    At least with dragonflies/ damselflies there are only a modest number to sort through – 79 species in mainland Spain – unlike moths. Dragonflies are becoming very popular in the UK since, like butterflies, they are easy to photograph with digital zoom camera when they land on vegetation. Surprisingly, the UK Dragonflies Facebook group even has far more members than the UK Butterflies group.
    A good reference point for dragonfly ID in your area is by dragonfly expert Paul Winter’s site https://sites.google.com/site/localpatch/libelulas-de-malaga
    Your pictures of Boyeria Irene are better than his ! Well done!

    Best regards
    Iain Whitaker

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  2. Bird Watcher

    For dragonfly photography the best locations are over and around moving or standing water with marginal or emergent vegetation such as reeds and rushes and the best times of day are early when they are just beginning to warm up and become active or when they settle on vegetation to feed or when clouds pass over. I have found dragonfly photography in UK quite easy in the right locations. Possibly it will be harder in Spain due to the more incessant heat and paucity of water and vegetation. The arroyos with any water mid to later Summer are clearly key locations. I will let you know how I get on after my trip and will give you some further tips if I can.

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