Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

A good year for dragonflies

with 30 comments

Click for greater clarity and considerably larger size.

2012 has been a good year for dragonflies in central Texas, as you see here. After looking at a guide to dragonflies of Texas, I can say that this seems to be a female eastern pondhawk, Erythemis simplicicollis. The flowers in the background are Thelesperma filifolium, known as greenthread, a name that accords with the color of the dragonfly, even if greenthread’s disk flowers are brown and its ray flowers yellow.

This picture comes from an August 1st morning along the Brushy Creek Regional Trail in Cedar Park, a rapidly grown (and still growing) suburb on the northern fringe of Austin.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 29, 2012 at 6:01 AM

30 Responses

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  1. Wow, aren’t their wings fabulous? They are so delicate and intricate! Wonderful macro :).


    August 29, 2012 at 6:09 AM

    • Yes, their wings are, and there are so many variations in pattern from species to species. Although I used my 100mm macro lens for this image, at the time I took the photograph I was still some distance away from the dragonfly. I often start taking pictures of an animal when I’m farther away than I would like to be, just in case my getting closer scares away the subject. Dragonflies are often good at returning to a spot they’ve left, so I sit still and wait to see if one that I’ve scared off will return.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 29, 2012 at 6:29 AM

  2. Fantastisches Makro!!


    August 29, 2012 at 6:18 AM

    • Danke, Mathilda. Your comment made me curious about how to say dragonfly in German, so I looked it up. It’s Libelle, which is taken from the Latin name for the insect. I also discovered that the Norwegian word is øyenstikker, which appears to mean eye-sticker, definitely a more picturesque (and seemingly painful) name. It reminds me that when I was growing up on Long Island we called dragonflies darning needles, even though these insects don’t sting people or poke them in the eye.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 29, 2012 at 6:41 AM

  3. What a gorgeous image… It’s funny, because down here in FLA, it’s been a banner year for dragonflies as well (throughout the state, apparently). Makes one wonder about the conditions!


    August 29, 2012 at 7:05 AM

    • Sounds like our Texas dragonflies have been colluding with yours in Florida. I don’t know about the conditions there, but here we’ve still been rebounding from the drought of 2011, when insects were less plentiful.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 29, 2012 at 7:25 AM

  4. J’aime les libellules. Leurs gros yeux leur donnent toujours une expression sympathique. Très jolie photo. Le détail de ses ailes est superbe.


    August 29, 2012 at 7:13 AM

    • Merci, Val (who says that she likes dragonflies because of the appealing expression that their big eyes give them; she also enjoys the details in their wings).

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 29, 2012 at 7:30 AM

  5. […] tentatively identified as a female eastern pondhawk, Erythemis simplicicollis. In a comment on this morning’s entry I mentioned that I often take a few preliminary pictures even if I’m farther away than […]

  6. The background color was a perfect complement to the dragonfly’s green!
    ~ Lynda


    August 29, 2012 at 1:56 PM

    • I’ll agree with you, Lynda. I’m thankful that the aptly named greenthreads were having a second bloom at the beginning of August.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 29, 2012 at 1:59 PM

  7. Just an observation, it looks cross-eyed!

    Bonnie Michelle

    August 29, 2012 at 6:57 PM

    • It didn’t occur to me, but I see how the image could lead you to think that, Bonnie.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 29, 2012 at 7:06 PM

      • I guess I still have the eye of a pre-school teacher! I envision a children’s book created around this creature!

        Bonnie Michelle

        August 29, 2012 at 7:09 PM

  8. I’ve just been fascinated by the names dragonflies have…. I’m beginning to think I’ll make a collection of them and keep them with the names of the full moon. There is something about these names that calls me to wonder what motivated them… Some, like this one, as “greenthread” you can pretty well imagine they were thinking of darning needles…. but I wonder about names liike, “widowskimmer” and some of the others that are so original.


    August 29, 2012 at 9:03 PM

    • As it turns out, I’ll be posting a picture of a widowskimmer in about a week. I’ll explain more about the name at that time.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 29, 2012 at 9:16 PM

  9. Amazing color and detail in the wings!

    Sheila T Illustrated

    August 29, 2012 at 9:05 PM

    • I sometimes think it’s the wings of dragonflies that people are most attracted to. In this case, of course, there’s also that wonderful green.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 29, 2012 at 9:19 PM

  10. That’s certainly a beauty! I’ve not seen one like it.


    August 29, 2012 at 9:21 PM

    • We have some bright red ones here, too. Maybe someday I’ll manage to photograph a green one and a red one together, but I don’t recall ever seeing them at the same time.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 29, 2012 at 9:25 PM

  11. This is a beautiful shot Steve! I feel like it’s looking right at me! I have seen an overload of dragonflies just this past week.

    Michael Glover

    August 31, 2012 at 11:25 PM

    • You may remember the line from the movie Casablanca: “Here’s looking at you, kid.”

      So you’ve been seeing a lot of dragonflies, too. That seems to be the case in various parts of the country. There have been plenty of butterflies in Austin this year also.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 31, 2012 at 11:38 PM

      • Yes I have noticed lots of butterflies as well. I usually don’t see that many, but lately they have been in swarms! Maybe from the tropical storm changing the atmosphere?

        Michael Glover

        August 31, 2012 at 11:41 PM

        • In Austin the butterflies and dragonflies have been plentiful all year. I’ve looked at it as a rebound from last year’s terrible drought.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 31, 2012 at 11:45 PM

  12. […] has been a good year in central Texas for dragonflies, as you heard me say on August 29. If the star of that day’s two posts was green, the hero of today’s is […]

  13. This is a variety and looks pretty!


    September 12, 2012 at 10:00 PM

  14. So… I was trying to identify one of the highlights of my Sunday afternoon stroll, and what should I find but your female eastern pondhawk. Can my new friend come over to play?

    I was interested in your note on the other photo about your approach: snap first, then snap as allowed. Mine kept landing and taking off, but it seemed inclined to stay in the same area, so I just sat down on the boardwalk and clicked away. It was a neat experience.


    October 15, 2015 at 8:07 PM

    • See what a difference your new camera makes with the picture of your new friend. That’s progress.

      Dragonflies do have a habit of returning to the same perch or a nearby one, so patience can win out (although it doesn’t always do so). As for starting to take pictures at a distance and gradually moving closer, at the beginning I still have to begin close enough that the subject doesn’t look minuscule—though I don’t have a rule for how close that is.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 15, 2015 at 9:49 PM

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