Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

No dulcimer, but a damsel*

with 35 comments

Tiny Damselfly 2955

This damselfly was tiny, and much tinier still were the colorful parasitic mites on it.

Today’s photograph comes from July 21 along the upper reaches of Bull Creek.

UPDATE: On August 28th a person at BugGuide.net identified this damselfly as a male Argia translata, known as a dusky dancer.


* The reference in the title is to the last part of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan.”

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 22, 2016 at 4:51 AM

35 Responses

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  1. That’s a mitey load being carried by fair damsel.

    Steve Gingold

    August 22, 2016 at 6:19 AM

  2. Wow, such clarity; obviously it isn’t in distress!


    August 22, 2016 at 6:58 AM

    • The key to clarity with a subject like this is getting the camera’s senor approximately parallel to the insect’s body.

      It’s not uncommon to see mites on dragonflies and damselflies. The conclusion of a study mentioned in the linked article noted that “water mite parasitism does not reduce damselfly survivorship, but it could reduce male mating success in some circumstances.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 22, 2016 at 7:48 AM

      • Getting the señor parallel is one thing, especially when the señor is senior, but if he has enough strength left after toting all his gear to get that sensor parallel — well, then we have a fantastic photo of a damsel to delight us. It’s a wonderful photo – and I couldn’t resist the Spanish-English typo connection!


        August 22, 2016 at 9:38 PM

        • Good catch, and good cross-language playing. I hadn’t even noticed the typo. If only I were as good a typist as a photographer.

          Steve Schwartzman

          August 22, 2016 at 9:52 PM

  3. This photo is just stunning, Steve.


    August 22, 2016 at 7:29 AM

  4. I wonder if the mites have parasites.

    Jim Ruebush

    August 22, 2016 at 7:46 AM

    • Jonathan Swift took up that idea:

      “So nat’ralists observe, a flea
      Has smaller fleas that on him prey;
      And these have smaller fleas to bite ’em.
      And so proceeds Ad infinitum.”

      Augustus de Morgan expanded that, too, to two directions:

      “Great fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite ’em,
      And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum.
      And the great fleas themselves, in turn, have greater fleas to go on,
      While these again have greater still, and greater still, and so on.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 22, 2016 at 7:51 AM

    • Whenever I learn about some organism, no matter how small, it seems that there are parasites for them. Phytoseiulus persimilis (a predatory mite) appears to control spider mites. I have no idea what controls them.

      Steve Gingold

      August 22, 2016 at 8:06 AM

  5. Fascinating, and good banter, too. Speaking of spider mites, I had a bonus bug one summer here at the lake. I made a photo of a spider that I saw outside the window and, when I processed it, I saw that a tiny mite had attached itself to one of the joints in one of the spider’s legs. I’ll send you a photo.


    August 22, 2016 at 12:42 PM

    • Isn’t it fun when you make those discoveries after the fact? Given that the mite was at a joint, you might say you recorded a spider’s version of arthritis. Looking forward to seeing it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 22, 2016 at 3:22 PM

  6. Aren’t you clever .. To think you spotted those mites and knew what they are! Wonderful image Steve ..


    August 23, 2016 at 1:24 PM

    • When I first saw mites like these on a dragonfly some years ago I thought they were eggs, but someone who knew better straightened me out. Live and learn.

      Steve Schwartzman

      August 23, 2016 at 1:35 PM

  7. Amazing photograph!


    August 23, 2016 at 3:49 PM

  8. Excellent capture!!! I see these around here frequently – but not with mites!!


    August 23, 2016 at 4:27 PM

  9. […] dancer, Argia plana. I pluralized the post’s title because I’ve learned that the damselfly with parasitic mites on it that I showed you last month is a dusky dancer, Argia […]

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