Feeding Grappletails

This gallery contains 3 photos.

The adult grappletail (Octogomphus specularis), a type of clubtail dragonfly, will eat almost any soft-bodied insect – including mosquitoes, flying ants, termites, small moths, flies, damselflies and even other dragonflies. Grappletails were actively feeding one morning as I wandered along … Continue reading

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This gallery contains 8 photos.

The bur-reeds are a widespread and highly variable group of plants. For example, some taxonomists separate narrow leaf bur-reed (Sparganium angustifolium) into at least three additional, separate species (emersum, siaplex and multipedunculatum) while others consider all four a single species, … Continue reading

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Killdeer Chicks

Although I often find and observe killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) nests, the chicks always manage to hatch when I am not around or gone for the day. My friend, Rockie, has monitored a killdeer nest near the Lookout Post Office (Modoc County CA) since four eggs were laid over 22 days ago. Today the first two killdeer chicks arrived. I rushed over to Lookout as soon as Rockie called with the exciting news. Two eggs are yet to hatch.

Two Killdeer Chicks

Two Killdeer Chicks

One killdeer (I assume Mama) stayed at the nest and watched over her new offspring:

Mama Protecting Baby

Mama Protecting Baby

Meanwhile the mate (Papa?) spent the entire time I was taking pictures trying to distract me with a broken wing display (see “Broken-wing Display” 6-11-12).

Broken-wing Distraction

Broken-wing Distraction

More information about killdeer can be found in my earlier posts: “Killdeer” 2-15-12 and “Killdeer Nest” 6-10-12.

Thanks, Rockie!!


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Lesser Spearwort

This gallery contains 6 photos.

Our area is in the midst of a drought. In response to the lack of water many plants are stunted this season. While walking near Medicine Lake recently (Siskiyou County CA) I noticed a flowering yarrow plant that was only … Continue reading

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Serotinous Cones

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The more I learn about lodgepole pines (Pinus contorta), a Western species, the more I realize how complex and diverse this widespread conifer is. At least three, perhaps more, subspecies exist. Each of these subspecies vary depending on their environment. … Continue reading

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Damselfly Wheel Formation

Wheel Formation

Wheel Formation

Still on the subject of damselfly reproduction:

As I mentioned in the post on “Tandem Ovipositing” (07-09-14), damselfly reproduction consists of several distinct phases – territory establishment, mate recognition and acceptance, copulation and ovipositing.

Once a male damselfly establishes and begins to defend a territory, he waits for a female that is ready to mate to fly into his territory. Mate selection involves the male clasping the female’s thorax with the four terminal appendages on his thorax. The male appendages connect with the thoracic plates of a female of the same species in a type of “lock and key” arrangement. The female rejects or accepts the male based on the size and shape of his terminal appendages. After acceptance, the male and female often spend time in contact with one another before actual sperm transfer. During this period the male may remove sperm deposited by previous couplings and prepare his own sperm.

Following acceptance and a period in contact, the damselfly pair settle and perch for copulation. The female loops her abdomen forward and up to the male’s genitalia on his second abdominal segment. This is referred to as the wheel formation. Damselflies will often remain in the wheel formation for a long time before separating. This period in the wheel formation is thought to prevent a competitor from mating with the female, gives the male time to remove reserved sperm from a previous mating and generally provides the male’s sperm a better chance. Depending on the damselfly species, following copulation the female either oviposits alone or with the male in attendance.

This northern bluet (Enallagma annexum) pair was photographed at Reflection Lake in Lassen Volcanic National Park (Lassen County CA).

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Tandem Ovipositing

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Damselfly mating is generally composed of several distinct stages – territory establishment, mate selection and acceptance, copulation and ovipositing. Once mating has occurred damselflies lay their eggs either alone or with the male on guard to protect the female while … Continue reading

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