Monday, 9 June 2008

Spineless Sunday Part-1

I spent a fabulous Spineless Sunday on 18 May chasing invertebrates in my home garden. A top highlight reported on this day took the centre stage on this blog soon after and this post got delayed due to that. So, this is the continuation of that Spineless Sunday.

Elusive Adjutant Aethriamanta brevipennis brevipennis

Elusive Adjutant - juvenile maleThis is a special dragonfly species found in my garden and I blogged about it previously here. It showed an adult male & a female and a juvenile. As those pictures show, in most dragonflies, the adult males and females often look remarkably different in colouration. The males are often brightly coloured and therefore are more showy. This is different in newly emerged juvenile males, which often look like females in their outlook. The individual in the above picture is an ‘adolescent’ male that is beginning to acquire adult colouration in its body as you can clearly see patches of red emerging. This individual was photographed at midday when it held its body in a vertical posture to reduce the impact of direct sunlight on it.

Elusive Adjutant Aethriamanta brevipennis brevipennis

Elusive Adjutant - juvenile maleThis is the same individual as above. Another common name for this one is Black-headed Basker and as that name implies, it loves to bask in the sunlight. I have noticed that this dragonfly tolerates close approaching, which makes it quite photogenic.

Variegated Flutterer Rhyothemis variegata variegata

Variegated Flutterer - femaleThis is a female with clear ends to the forewings. As you can see the alignment of the body and the wings is unusual in this picture. That is because as soon as it landed on the grass leaf closer to me, it started writhing its wings sensuously while keeping the body straight as if it is dancing to an irresistible R n B beat. It is a common dragonfly species and occurs in large numbers around my house. It has a slow butterfly-like flight and quite a few visitors have mistaken it as a butterfly due to that.

White Four-ring Ypthima ceylonica

White Four-ring This butterfly uses grasses as food plants and is quite common. It is highly variable in the size and number of ocelli (eye-like spots), adapted to fool predators disguising itself as a larger and a dangerous-looking creature.

White Four-ring Ypthima ceylonica

White Four-ring This is the upper side (recto surface) of it.


Nora said...

Hi Amila, these are some lovely photos have given me a new inspiration to photo macro now..sounds like your garden is full of interesting little creatures....glad you are back...cheers.

Amila Salgado said...

Hi Ocean,
Thanks as always!
I am glad to hear that I have inspired you to photograph macro!
Cost of travel is very high these days, so it is always good to find interesting things around you own yard. Look forward to seeing your macro shots.

Anonymous said...

Dragon fly tolerates close approach?? I must try out next time. These are all wonderful shots. :)

Amila Salgado said...
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Amila Salgado said...

Yes, they do Indrani. Especially when they are feeding, mating and in the mornings when they are trying to dry their wings from the dew. It is also possible during the midday as most dragons are sun-loving ones.

Patient waiting and patient chasing are the keys. It helps if you take a little time to study their habits first. If you scare one while trying to approach, stay still to see whether it would come back to the same spot. They have their favourite spots where they keep returning. Some simply vanish if you chase. For some it is the only way to photograph. Having a few erect sticks placed in sunny patches in your home garden close to vegetation/water helps to attract them as they like such launch pads to carry their precision air strikes.

Modesto Viegas said...

Excellent shots! Great quality!!!

Kathie Brown said...

Gallicissa, those are quite some insects there. The first one looks like it is performing some delicate ballet! The one with the transparent wingtips does look like a butterfly if you just look as the colored portion of the wings! Nice post!

Amila Salgado said...
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Amila Salgado said...
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Amila Salgado said...

Hi Modesto,
Thank you very much. Coming from a great photographer such as you, I am happy to hear those remarks.

Hi Kathie,
Thanks! The first one is often in such ballet postures during the midday.

Yes, the Variegated Flutterer female’s transparent tips break its actual dragonfly profile to disguise itself as a butterfly. Its slow butterfly-like flight habits further accentuate its mimicry, which it must be using for good effect to catch insect prey fooled into thinking it is a butterfly when in fact it is a dragon in disguise.

The butterflies which inherit poisonous bodies due to their larva feeding on poisnous food plants; such as the ones in the sub-family Danainae are generally slow in their flight habits in order to adequately advertise their danger to potential predators who can have a good long look to avoid an unpleasant meal. Those butterflies with no such poisonous bodies, which mimic the poisnous models in their general colouration, also copy the slow flight habits of the models to appear intimidating just as the poisnous models so confidently do.

I think in slow flight habits Variegated Flutter too may be employing such a strategy to fool its potential predators that it is actually a ‘slow and confident’ nasty one rather than a ‘fast and nervous’ eatable one.

Talking about mimicry, yesterday I stumbled upon a 'gem' in my home garden perfecting this art. And that particular case of mimicry has not been described by anybody. I am trying to write it up to a more formal publication first. Await the fullness of time.... (just as Sir. Humphrey Appleby would say)

Sandpiper (Lin) said...

These are wonderful close-up shots of some very pretty subjects, Amila! It's making me want to get out with my camera today, but the weather is brutally hot. We'll see. :-)

ST said...

Can't think of the words, too much jealousy, getting in the way.;-)

Amila Salgado said...

Hi Lin,
I haven't gone on a proper trip for days...but I that will change this month. Sounds like it very much the summer over there. Have a good shoot!

Hi ST,
hehe..I will take it as a compliment so, thanks! A bird report is long overdue here but these critters are keeping me busy, which I know you don't mind.

Doug Taron said...

Great dragonfly photos. We tried putting dragonflies from the US and Malaysia into our butterfly exhibit here in Chicago. It didn't work well- they flew to the ceiling and stayed there. Because of its flight pattern, I wondered if Rhyothemis might not have done better. Unfortunately, we were never able to work with that species. Nice blog.

Amila Salgado said...

Hi Doug,
Bruce had told me about you and your blog and I am glad that you dropped by. Interesting to hear how the said dragons behaved in the exhibit. Rhyothemis would be interesting one to try out.

I know you are hosting the next COTS. My submission will be mailed to you soon. I am sure it will be a great one with you playing host.

oldcrow61 said...

Fabulous photos and great information. The Variegated Flutterer is just beautiful.

Amila Salgado said...

Thanks OC,
Yes, the Variegated Flutterer is a pretty one and performs nicely to the camera.

KiDeN~H.D.3 said...

hye there..
what a beautiful blog!!
please bring your flag to my site.
just click
kiden best!


Amila Salgado said...

Hi Kiden,
Nice to hear from Sudan!
Thanks for dropping by.

Texas Travelers said...

Great series of photos. Well done.

It's a party here today.
Come visit,

bobbie said...

The first looks as if he's doing a handstand.
The variegated flutterer is lovely.
And the white four-ring I just love.
Your photos are marvelous.

Doug Taron said...

I got your COTS submission. Looks excellent. Also, my July issue of Natural History arrived this afternoon. There's a familiar photo on page 28. Congratulations on an informative and well-written article.

Amila Salgado said...

Hi Troy and Martha,
Thanks for your comments and the invitation. I will join the party soon.

Hi Bobbie,
Thanks a lot for your comments! I am glad you liked those photos. They are lovely residents in my yard.

Hi Doug,
I am really looking forward to COTS #33 you are hosting. Something tells me that it is going to be a superduper one!

Oh...You did receive your copy of Natural History. I too received mine about 4-days ago. Glad you enjoyed the article. Thanks a lot!

Anonymous said...

That top image of the dragonfly is a riot. Looks like it is dong a handstand in some nature gynmnastic competition.

Amila Salgado said...

Hi Laurie,
This dragonfly is a real showoff.
I am glad to hear your comments. More dragonfly shots will follow...

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