Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Green Darner Surprise

I am recently returned from a backpacking trip up in Pictured Rocks Nat'l Lakeshore in the U.P.  I can't wait to get hoppin' on the photos I took up there, but I haven't had a chance to take a look at them yet.  So I will share with you some images I shot a few weeks ago.

I was out in the Brighton Rec Area, near the swamp where we've been doing our volunteer work, doing a little garlic mustard recon.  It is getting late in the season already to be pulling it--as soon as the seed pods dry out you can do more harm than good by spreading the seeds when you pull, so it's best to leave it alone.  I wanted to make a pass through our target areas to check for stragglers, then do a little work in some outlying areas.

I came across a few plants near the trail and started yanking them out of the ground.  A had just reached for a plant, and started to wrap my hand around it, when I realized there was a very large insect clinging to the stalk. I instinctively yanked my hand back.

Anax junius, Common Green Darner

To my surprise, hanging motionless from the garlic mustard plant, was a green darner.  I grabbed the camera to take a few shots.  This insect was huge, at least as big as my iPhone.

I took several shots, then pulled the plant and laid it against some other foliage.  The darner never moved, except to rearrange it's feet. What a beauty! I have to assume that it was fresh from the larval stage, so clean and unmarred. Not a nick to be seen.

The eyes on this creature are amazing, wrapping almost all the way around its head. Was it studying me like I was studying it?

Wings so delicate and yet so strong.  We watched some dragonflies over the dunes at Pictured Rocks and their maneuverability is just incredible. They can go every direction but backwards, it seems. I'm not much of a bug person but these creatures are simply beyond words.


  1. Wow! Dragonflies are my favorite insect. I find dragonflies to be beautiful. Great photos! For the really close-up shots are you using extension tubes and/or a macro lens?

    1. Hi Joni! Because I was out working that day I had my lightweight (read "cheap"!) 70--250mm lens. I can get fairly close but all of these shots are cropped to a certain degree in Photoshop.