It’s a Darner but Darned if I Know Which

Thanks to hurting my foot yesterday, I’m trying to stay off of it as much as I can.  Bad for me, but good for my blog fans because this means a few more opportunities to get some posts out.  Yesterday’s entry focused on one of the many inhabitants in/around our local ponds.  Keeping with that theme, figured I’d go ahead and throw out another member of the pond community – the Dragonfly.

I have been amassing quite the dragonfly collection and a number of them have been featured in various posts (link here, here, here and here).  I know for a fact there are a few more I was able to get in the tin while out in the Nevada mountains.   I’ve stated this in about every single post on these insects but it is ALWAYS a given – identifying these often colorful winged creatures is damn near impossible.  I firmly believe this is more of an issue with the reference tools available on the web (and iPad) than it is a general comment about identification.  Every site that could be located by Google was scoured for any identifying features that would properly classify this dragonfly.   Clearly it has light blue markings on a deep purple base.  A very nice palette by the way if you are looking for a team color scheme.  It also has the unique club/tendril end to the abdomen that one would think is sufficient to track it down.  Of course, that would be just too easy now wouldn’t it.  About the only thing that could really be said with some certainty is you are likely staring at a Darner.  That is all fine and dandy, but WHICH ONE!

It did help to be able to focus on the Darner group but the web kept offering up conflicting images or bad descriptions and or photos.

The Bug Guide offered up this example of a Variable Darner (link here).  The color match is pretty close at least on the turquoise side, but doesn’t really have the deep purple look in the base.   The Dragonfly Whisperer actually provided a nice comparison of two potential dragonflies – particularly one he calls the Happy Face Darner (Paddle Tailed Darner) and the other being a Shadow Darner (link here).  Based on that information the best candidate appears to be the Shadow Darner.    Not to be outdone, the Land that Ugly Forgot (link here) which simply refers to it as a blue dragonfly – not exactly the most helpful reference but some nice pictures none the less (note, I have that red one in the tin as well).  Steve Rottenborn (link here) had a sample of Variable Darners but again it looks like the Happy Face ones from above as well as the previous Variable reference – see, I told you it was hard.    Next up the New Jersey Dragonfly site (link here) which offers up a Canada Darner that doesn’t look that far off from the Variables.  Ugh.  Not to be out done, the Sonic site (link here) refer to a similar looking examples as .. wait for it … California Darners – looks like a Variable to me!  Since we are on a role, how about some more Variables at the Utah site (link here).

Let’s take another look at mine.

Personally, the Shadow Darner seems to be the closest match.  Not emotionally tied to that decision in any way beyond having spent a heck of a lot of time trying to track it down.  Does look like the all red one I have is going to be easier to identify once those get processed in .. say about 6 to 8 months.  That’s all for now folks – getting warm out now so see you at the pond!

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