Thursday, June 28, 2012

Libellula lydia

The common whitetail (Libellula lydia) is a fairly regular visitor of our farm here in Fresno, California. The male with its striking white abdomen is more often photographed (and more approprioately named). The female (like the one below) lacks the bright abdomen but the wing markings are more intricate. This one landed in one of our apricot trees a few weeks ago. The nearest standing water is a small pond half a mile away - not much a distance, really, for these strong fliers. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Libellula saturata

Not all wildlife sitings occur in truly wild places. Especially among insects, sometimes an unusual species shows up in your backyard or in some other developed place. Even weedy abandoned lots can surprise you. I ran into this female flame skimmer (Libellula saturata) about a month ago along a windy road above Dinuba (California).

This is a sere landscape in May and only a narrow belt of vegetation lined the road. I had stopped the car to look at a few phaenopeplas near a distant oak and discovered the dragonfly. There was no water nearby that I could see. Supposedly it had ventured from some other canyon or cattle pond nearer to town. It just goes to show that it pays to keep your eyes open – no matter where you might be.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Strymon melinus

There is nothing unusual about this butterfly, Strymon melinus. In fact it is very prosaicly named the common hairstreak. I found it bouncing around the dry vegetation at Lost Lake (north of Fresno, California) a week ago with its beautiful white, orange and black scales (on the underside of it wings).

It ranges throughout North and Central America and into South America. Yet even given its ubiquity, I couldn't help but admire it yet again as I have done before. As with many insects that we either ignore or shy away from, closer examination can be quite rewarding. A reminder that nature is breathtaking at times.