Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Posts Tagged ‘damselfly

Snow-on-the-prairie and friends

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On October 4th I drove east to Manor and spent a couple of hours in the Wildhorse Ranch subdivision, new parts of which have kept springing up for several years now. As was true in October last year, I found no shortage of native species doing their autumnal thing this year. Some of those plants will likely survive development; others won’t. The picturesque group that you see above, because of its location, probably won’t last. The prominent red-stalked plants are snow-on-the-prairie, Euphorbia bicolor. Across the bottom of the picture is a carpet of doveweed, Croton monanthogynus (a genus-mate of the woolly croton you saw here a week ago and again yesterday. The erect plant a quarter of the way in from the left is annual sumpweed, Iva annua, whose pollen, like that of the related ragweed, triggers many people’s allergic reactions in the fall.

Aesthetically speaking, the top picture exemplifies a more-is-more, fill-up-the-frame approach to photography. In contrast, take the minimalist view below that gives a much closer look at snow-on-the-prairie.

And while we’re offering more-detailed views, the portrait below gives you a better look at doveweed, garnished with a dameselfly that might be a female Kiowa dancer, Argia immunda.


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Austin, where I’ve lived since 1976, is the Berkeley of Texas, with leftist ideologues controlling the city’s government. In 2020, the Austin City Council’s response to months of daily rioting in cities around the country was to cut $21.5 million outright from the Austin Police Department budget and to shift another $128 million to other city departments. Predictably, crimes in Austin have increased. As local television station KXAN reported on September 13, 2021, two murders that weekend were the 59th and 60th homicides for the year so far, “the highest number of homicides Austin has recorded in one year in modern history” — and the year still had three-and-a-half months to go.

Apologists argue that crime has also gone up in many other American cities in the past year. True, but that’s hardly a justification for Austin to cut its police budget. According to that “logic,” because Covid-19 was increasing in other parts of the country last year, Austin should have reduced funding to deal with the pandemic.

On July 5 this year, KXAN quoted Interim Police Chief Joseph Chacon: “When it comes to the most critical calls… — shootings, stabbings, rape and domestic violence in progress — the current response time average is nine minutes and two seconds…. That is a minute-and-a-half slower than the department’s three-year average of seven minutes and 30 seconds.”

In response to the increased dangers caused by such a large reduction in the police budget, a group called Save Austin Now got enough signatures (close to 30,000) on a petition to place a proposition on the ballot for November 2nd, just two weeks from now. Among the things that Proposition A [as it’s designated] would do are:

  • establish minimum police staffing and require there to be at least two police officers for every 1,000 residents of Austin;
  • add an additional 40 hours of training each year on “critical thinking, defensive tactics, intermediate weapons proficiency, active shooter scenarios, and hasty react team reactions”;
  • pay police officers a bonus for being proficient in any of the five most frequently spoken foreign languages in Austin; for enrolling in cadet mentoring programs; for being recognized for honorable conduct;
  • require police officers to spend at least 35% of their time on community engagement;
  • require full enrollment for at least three full-term cadet classes until staffing levels return to the levels prescribed in Austin’s 2019-2020 budget [in 2020 the City Council had canceled two cadet classes as part of its “defund the police” hysteria];
  • require the mayor, council members, staff and assistants of council members, as well as the director of the Office of Police Oversight, to complete the curriculum of the Citizen Police Academy and participate in Austin’s Ride-Along Program [in other words, the people in charge of the police should know what the police actually do in their job!];
  • encourage the police chief to seek demographic representation, as reflected in “racial, ethnic and gender diversity of the city,” in hiring police officers.

Do you find anything objectionable there? All of those things sound worthy to me. Nevertheless, leftist activists who want to keep the police underfunded are fighting fiercely against this proposition. Money to campaign against it has been coming in from many places outside Austin and outside Texas. As Austin’s NPR radio station KUT reported on October 4: “Billionaire and left-wing activist George Soros gave $500,000 to Equity PAC, a political action committee lobbying against Prop A. The group also received $200,000 from The Fairness Project, a Washington, D.C.-based organization founded in 2016 that backs progressive ballot measures.”

So there you have it: the people pushing “equity” and “fairness” are working to undermine civil order and public safety. What a sorry state of affairs for my country.

© 2021 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 17, 2021 at 4:33 AM

Damselfly on western ironweed

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I’ve always found western ironweed (Vernonia baldwinii) hard to photograph. Not so this dameslfly on the buds thereof along Bull Creek on July 1st. In looking at John Abbott’s book Damselflies of Texas, I figured this damselfly was in the genus Hetaerina but I wasn’t sure about the species. Yesterday on bugguide.net entomologist T. Hedlund identified the species as Hetaerina americana, known as the American rubyspot. The one I photographed seems to have been a female.

UPDATE: from a different frame I’ve added a closeup showing the details in one segment of the abdomen and a part of the wing. Till now I hadn’t paid attention to the transverse black markings on the iridescent blue.

American Rubyspot Damselfly on Western Ironweed Buds by Buttonbush Flower Globe 1831 Detail

Unrelated thought for today: “Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” — George Santayana in The Life of Reason: The Phases of Human Progress. The last sentence is famous but often gets misquoted. Much worse, many people refuse to learn that lesson.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 28, 2020 at 4:40 AM

From Monday to Wednesday

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On Monday evening, October 23rd, I bought a copy of John Abbott’s Damselflies of Texas. On Wednesday at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center I photographed these two reddish damselflies in the penultimate stage of their mating sequence on a fern. Thanks to the field guide I’d so recently come home with, I identified them as desert firetails, Telebasis salva. They’re small, with a body length of from 24–29mm, or roughly one inch.

I see that the Spanish name for this damselfly is caballito del diablo. That means ‘little horse of the devil,’ presumably because of the red color. If you’d like to see more details of these little devil’s horses, click the excerpt below.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 1, 2017 at 7:40 AM

Dancers

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Springwater Dancer Damselfly 3092

Click for greater size and detail.

On August 1st at the Doeskin Ranch I photographed this springwater 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 transplana.

© 2016 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 27, 2016 at 4:41 AM

Damselfly with unwelcome hangers-on

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Tan Damselfly with Parasitic Mites 2276

When I first saw something like this years ago I thought the little red things were eggs, but then I learned that they’re parasitic mites. Sorry, damselfly.

This July 23rd picture is from the Muir Lake Trail, a place in Cedar Park where I’d never taken pictures before.

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

September 4, 2015 at 5:26 AM

Aztec dancer and ant

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Aztec Dancer Damselfly with Ant 9632

I took this photograph close to a waterfall off Harrogate Dr. in northwest Austin last year on 7/24. Whether the ant ran any risk of getting eaten by the Aztec dancer damselfly, Argia nahuana, I don’t know, but the date reminds me of something I do know, namely that 7 and 24 are the perpendicular sides of a 7-24-25 right triangle because 7 squared plus 24 squared equals 25 squared. Other right triangles with the shortest side an odd number are  5-12-13,  9-40-41,  11-60-61,  13-84-85,  and the familiar 3-4-5. Can you figure out how to get the two longer sides of each right triangle of this type if you know only the shortest side?

(Speaking of math, did anyone notice that the number 63 that played a role in yesterday’s post can be written in base 2 as 111111?)

© 2015 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 27, 2015 at 5:32 AM

Small blue damselfly

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Small Blue Damselfly 9607

On July 24th, while exploring near the waterfall adjacent to Harrogate Dr. that I mentioned in yesterday’s deer post, I photographed a damselfly and its prominent shadow. This obliging insect, which wasn’t much more than an inch long (maybe 3 cm), appears to be one of the “dancers” that comprise the genus Argia. From a look at John C. Abbott’s Dragonflies and Damselflies of Texas…., I’d say this is an Aztec dancer, Argia nahuana (Nahua is the Aztec word for ‘Aztec’).

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

August 28, 2014 at 5:53 AM

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